A champion comes to Elsa’s rescue but she must not ask his name. When it looks as if Elsa may have found happiness, forces of darkness conspire against her.
This epic fairytale contains some of Wagner’s most beguiling and beautiful music. It’s the perfect place to start for those new to the composer’s operas. For Wagner fans this rarely performed, spectacular opera is a must-see.
Supported by the WNO Lohengrin Syndicate
Co-production with Theatr Wielki, Warsaw
"In his anniversary year we present Wagner's 'Romantic Opera' Lohengrin - a sublime confrontation between good and evil in which some of Wagner's most famous musical gems - notably the Bridal Chorus - are set within a tapestry of epic symphonic scale."
"It's a mountain - you'll never reach the top, but every step changes your world view."
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Enemy forces are threatening Germany and King Heinrich of Saxony has come to Brabant to recruit forces to defend his territory. He finds Brabant in turmoil, and leaderless. The regent, Friedrich von Telramund, tells him that he has been appointed guardian of Elsa and Gottfried, children of the late Duke of Brabant, but that Gottfried has disappeared and Elsa is suspected of murdering him. Telramund had hoped to marry Elsa but is convinced that she has a secret lover and has instead married Ortrud, with whom he now claims the throne of Brabant. Elsa insists that she is innocent and tells King Heinrich that she has dreamed of a Knight who will come to protect her against false accusations. To everyone’s amazement, the Knight appears. He accepts Telramund’s challenge to fight and asks Elsa if she will marry him if he wins. She accepts his proposal and the conditions that he makes: she must never ask his origins, his lineage or his name. The Knight fights and beats Telramund but spares his life. Ortrud and Telramund’s plans are thwarted.
Telramund and Ortrud have been excluded from the celebrations of Elsa’s wedding to the mysterious Knight. Telramund accuses Ortrud of lying to him about Gottfried’s supposed murder and Ortrud responds by accusing him of cowardice: they must poison Elsa’s mind against the Knight. Elsa takes pity on Ortrud, who invokes the pagan gods before telling Elsa that her hero could vanish as mysteriously as he has appeared. Telramund’s banishment is announced and the Knight is declared protector of Brabant. As he leads his bride to the marriage ceremony, Ortrud interrupts the procession to demand that the Knight’s true identity should be revealed. Telramund whispers to Elsa that she should break the Knight’s magical powers by cutting off his fingertip.
Elsa’s happiness with the Knight is destroyed when she is unable to resist asking him his name and origins. Telramund breaks in to attack him, and is killed in the ensuing fight. The Knight orders Telramund’s body to be taken to King Heinrich and tells Elsa that at daybreak her questions will be answered. The people gather and the Knight tells them that he can no longer protect them by leading the army into battle against the enemy. He reveals that he comes from a castle far away, where men are gathered to worship and protect the Holy Grail, which brings them strength and goodness. They go out into the world to perform deeds of chivalry but must return to the Grail castle once their identity is known. He is Lohengrin, the son of Parsifal, King of the Grail, and must now depart, leaving Elsa in despair. Ortrud exults but her powers are broken when the lost Gottfried is restored to Brabant as its new leader.
Conductor Lothar Koenigs
Director & Designer Antony McDonald
Lighting Designer Lucy Carter
Movement Director Philippe Giraudeau
Associate Director Helen Cooper
Associate Lighting Designer Neill Brinkworth
Associate Movement Director Lizie Saunderson
Lighting realised on tour by Ian Jones
Chorus Master Stephen Harris
Assistant Conductor Thomas Blunt
Musical Preparation Stephen Wood
Staff Director Caroline Chaney
Language Coach Jacqueline Pischorn
Stage Manager Julian Johnson
Production Manager Robert Pagett
Herald Simon Thorpe
Heinrich der Vogler Henry the Fowler, the German King Matthew Best
Friedrich von Telramund Frederick of Telramund, a Count of Brabant John Lundgren (ex 23 & 26 May)
Claudio Otelli (23 & 26 May)
Elsa von Brabant Emma Bell
Lohengrin Peter Wedd
Ortrud wife of Telramund Susan Bickley
Noblemen Alastair Moore, Philip Lloyd Holtam, Laurence Cole, Simon Crosby Buttle
Bridesmaids Anitra Blaxhall, Fiona Harrison, Louise Ratcliffe, Amanda Baldwin
Gottfried Elsa’s brother Thomas Rowlands, Daniel Williams
All performances start at 5.30pm (except 26 May at 3pm)
Sung in German with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff)
Running time approximately 4 hours 30 minutes including two 30 minute intervals
Lohengrin Director & Designer, Antony McDonald talks about Wagner: the music and the man.
Listen to our Lohengrin playlist.
Early set designs to give you a sense of Antony Mcdonald’s 1840s setting. Lohengrin set design by Anthony McDonald.
Take a look at Antony McDonald's costume designs for Lohengrin.