new production of Lohengrin opened yesterday, April 4th at the Berlin State Opera. Cast included Klaus Florian Vogt, Dorothea Röschmann (in her role debut as Elsa), Kwangchul Youn (replacing René Pape). Daniel Barenboim conducted.
The premiere has been surrounded by more than the usual dose of controversy/press hysteria as Stefan Herheim and Daniel Barenboim apparently had a rather below-average working relationship, with Stefan Herheim being quoted in interviews as saying that "Daniel Barenboim appears a honorary guest in his own house..he hardly followed the stage rehearsals..you don´t exactly encourage the curiousity to bring music and theater together in this way" and stating that "Barenboim has another understanding of music theater [than Herheim]". At the website of the Berlin State Opera, Stefan Herheim subsequently distanced himself from the general tone of this article originally published in Die Welt, however the quotes, I believe, remain.
Daniel Barenboim has responded with the following: “I have admired Stefan Herheim’s work in the past, and I like the way he thinks.. But we have a disagreement about the overture.” Which, Barenboim (as usual with Wagner) prefers being played curtain down.
And the perforkmance? We already knew that string puppets/marionettes would appear and that Herheim was inspired by Peter Konwitschny´s 10 year old Hamburg Lohengrin production.
I did unfortunately not attend the premiere, but from preliminary reports I understand that the main concept evolved around the current opera house situation in Berlin + Richard Wagner´s composition process with characters reflecting in marionette alter egos and that at least as much stage action went on as in Herheims Bayreuth Parsifal. If that is indeed the case, I believe I shall side with Daniel Barenboim in the "understanding of music theater" discussion.