Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

Information on the piece

Romantic opera in three acts
First performed on 28th August, 1850 at Weimar
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 15th April 2012

4 hrs 30 mins / 2 intervals

In German language with German and English surtitles

Introduction (in German language): 45 minutes before beginning; Rang-Foyer

recommended from 15 years on
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Kindly supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V.

About the performance

About the work
King Henry I, “the Fowler”, is in Brabant to hold the Assizes and assert the nobles’ duty to provide militias to assist in military campaigns. Since the death of the Duke of Brabant, however, the succession has been a source of conflict. His children, Gottfried and Elsa, are wards of Count Telramund, but Gottfried has vanished and Telramund suspects Elsa of having killed him. A duel between her accuser and Elsa’s champion is organised to decide the issue. At the last moment a knight appears in a boat drawn by a swan, ready to defend Elsa’s honour. He is also prepared to take her as his wife on condition that she never ask him his name or where he hails from. Elsa agrees and the knight defeats Telramund.

It was Ortrud, wife of Telramund and daughter of Radbod, the last Frisian prince, who poisoned her husband’s opinion of Elsa, with a view to regaining the position she had once held. Now she sets about blocking Elsa’s marriage to the stranger and sowing mistrust in her mind. But Elsa remains steadfast and refuses to ask her husband-to-be where he comes from. But once in their bridal chamber, she regrets that she doesn’t know his identity and expresses her desire to be able to speak his name. Swearing to keep his secret, she asks the forbidden question. Telramund bursts into the room with his noblemen and is promptly killed by the knight, who then formally reproaches Elsa for breaking her oath. He announces that he is Lohengrin, a knight of the Holy Grail and son of Parsifal, and now has to leave, since his secret has been revealed. Ortrud is convinced that she has got what she wanted, but then Gottfried, Elsa’s absent brother, turns up, having been kidnapped by Ortrud and turned into …a swan. Lohengrin appoints Gottfried as heir to the throne and the swan bears Lohengrin away again. Elsa dies of a broken heart.

For a considerable period LOHENGRIN remained Wagner’s best received opera worldwide. That the opera has been the subject of so many different stage interpretations is doubtless not only down to the tragic love story involving Elsa and the Swan Knight but also because the material throws up social and political issues that remain acutely relevant today – not only the yearning of a traumatised nation for a charismatic leader but also the inability of human beings to attain and retain a utopia.

About the production
Is the Swan Knight really what he claims or is Lohengrin’s heroism just for show? Director Kasper Holten loses no time in presenting a nation under severe duress that is desperate for a redeemer – and as history often has it, Wagner’s romantic opera, too, provides us with a character who exploits the citizens’ need and sets himself up as a figurehead. Not only Elsa is won over by the new saviour; the people of Brabant are also convinced by the newcomer – even though he has used dubious tactics to defeat his adversary.


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Advents-Verlosung: Das 2. Fensterchen

In today's Advent calendar window, we are giving away 3 DVDs of "Der Schatzgräber" - an opera in a prelude, four acts and a postlude by Franz Schreker. If you would like to win one of the three DVDs, please send an e-mail today with the subject "The 2nd window" to advent@deutscheoperberlin.de.

DER SCHATZGRÄBER (THE TREASURE HUNTER) by Franz Schreker was a triumph at its world premiere in Frankfurt in 1920 and went on to play 44 times at assorted venues over the next five years. It then fell victim to a shifting zeitgeist and slipped from opera-house programmes, with a National Socialist ban on performances sealing its demise. Even after 1945 the Schreker revival was a long time coming – and THE TREASURE HUNTER has not featured prominently in the renaissance.

As with the vast majority of Schreker’s libretti, the story of Els and Elis explores the relationship between fantasy and reality, between art and life. Soulmates in the sense that they are both at the mercy of the king’s disposition, Els and Elis set off in search of different treasures. Elis, the minstrel, uses his magic lute to locate a stash of jewels and do humanity a good turn. Els, an innkeeper’s daughter who has grown up motherless in a tough, male-chauvinist world, becomes a liar, cheat and murderess in pursuit of her goal, tasking her suitors to steal the queen’s jewels and then having them killed once they have returned with the haul of treasure. Yet even with the gold in their possession, the pair are not content, and so, true to form, Schreker turns his attention to the theme of yearning per se, which is the actual “treasure” that the composer is interested in, “a dream of happiness and redemption”. Elis and Els are caught up in a swirl of dreams, memories, premonitions, songs and music. Their stories take on a dreamlike quality in a world beset by greed, murder and emotional inconstancy. For Franz Schreker the path to redemption could only be via art. Composed during the turmoil of the First World War, the TREASURE HUNTER score amounts to Schreker’s personal confession of artistic faith, executed in florid strokes of late-Romantic musical colour.

Conductor Marc Albrecht; Staging Christof Loy; Set design Johannes Leiacker; Costume design Barbara Drosihn; With Tuomas Pursio, Doke Pauwels, Clemens Bieber, Michael Adams, Joel Allison, Michael Laurenz, Thomas Johannes Mayer, Seth Carico, Daniel Johansson, Gideon Poppe, Stephen Bronk, Elisabet Strid, Patrick Cook, Tyler Zimmerman a. o.; Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

Closing date: 2 December 2023, the winners will be informed by email on 4 December 2023. The DVDs will then be sent by post. Legal recourse is excluded.