It is the story of the knight of the swan, the prince of Christianity who comes to the rescue of the mild Elsa of Brabant, to save her from a dishonourable accusation of fratricide. The disappearance of Gottfried, Elsa’s brother, is actually the work of Ortrud the witch, who belongs to the world of the dark divinities of ancient Germany. Lohengrin asks for Elsa’s hand, but anonymously: as the custodian of the Holy Grail, he cannot say who he is and where he comes from. But the girl is too weak and, gnawed by doubt, she demands to know who he is. He gives in but is forced to leave forever, this time in a boat pulled by a dove in flight.
Barenboim will be conducting this first opera in which Wagner wove a dense-knit mesh of symbolic musical motifs. The production is staged by director Claus Guth, who aroused no end of admiration last Season with Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten.