The Chicago Lyric Opera’s Lohengrin is a testament to the major problem of many American opera productions today. On the one hand, conductor Sir Andrew Davis’ formidable interpretation rivalled the greatest in Wagnerian history, but on the other hand, director Elijah Moshinsky’s lackluster staging rivalled your average high-school production. The irony of hearing some of the world’s greatest Wagnerian voices while seeing some of its most awkward blocking is nothing new to regular attendees of the American Wagner scene. That said, the Lyric might have done well to present the evening in concert form.
Each spring, Easter offers us a time for family, a time for oversized rabbits, for pastel-colored eggs and for Bach oratorios. Since the 19th century, the St. John Passion (as well as the longer, more complete St. Matthew Passion) has become a holiday standard for classical music buffs with its musical retelling of the Easter story, replete with arias, ariosos, recitatives, choruses and some of the most memorable hymns in the Western canon.
Like the great migrations of the blue whale, the antelope, and the noble Canadian goose, come summer, European theater-makers flee the theater-laden capitals in flock and head to the countryside to make theater for the rural folk. So during my sojourn in Vienna, I too, took wing to the small hamlet Bromberg in search of the city’s thespians. An hour outside the city, I found the Bromberger Waldbühne, an outdoor theater with a sea of tables and benches for beer, goulash and chatter.