Monday, June 2, 2008

Herzog's Mediocre Wagner

ImageLohengrin (Deutsche Grammophon)
Werner Herzog’s staging of Wagner’s opera of love and redemption is curiously muted. Perhaps it’s because the German film director was an operatic novice at the time, but there’s very little originality to his concept or visual sense. Not that he does anything egregiously wrong; it’s just that, considering the memorable images he’s put onscreen over the past four decades, I expected more but rarely got it -- except for the opera’s haunting final tableau. This is also a musically undistinguished Lohengrin, conducted by Peter Schneider and starring a wobbly Cheryl Studer as Elsa and a vocally stiff Paul Frey as the hero.

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