10 April

Last year at this time L and I were listening to Parsifal in the Berlin Opera House. In order to keep the tradition up, this year we watch a DVD of Lohengrin in the spare room. We put on our opera clothes and drank fizzy wine in the interval and everything.

(The New York Met was actually streaming a more Good Friday appropriate Parsifal for free, but I could think of no clever way to make the New York Met app send pictures to the TV and didn’t fancy watching five hours of German philosophy on a tablet.)

Became concerned about whether it was appropriate to eat Hot Cross Buns on a Friday, considering that it was presumably a fast day.  After literally minutes of painstaking research I learned that Lent traditionally runs from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday and that it would have been okay to break the fast with sweet buns at noon on Friday. Hot Cross Buns are a very ancient tradition stretching back to the nineteenth century, like most ancient traditions.

The DVD was of the 2010 Lohengrin which  I saw live in BAYREUTH a few years back. Lohengrin makes little sense at the best of times, and this production was hugely enhanced by portraying the chorus of tenth century Saxon knights as laboratory rats. (Prince Gottfried, who spends most of the opera transformed into a swan and only assumes his true form in the last few second, was a grotesque foetus emerging from an egg.) It was all very spectacular, especially the wedding sequence in Act 2, and despite the surreal setting it was very possible to follow the plot and the psychology of the characters. One of the advantages of watching opera on the TV is that you get close ups and crucially sub titles. A lot of the music in Lohengrin is rather generic Wagner, but it has some of the best chorus work in the canon, particularly at the climax of Act 1 and the opening of Act 3. But everyone remains baffled by what the laboratory theme was saying about the text, or about anything else.


Richard Worth said...

I am glad you enjoyed it: are you saving Parsifal for Easter Day

Andrew Rilstone said...

Parsifal is very appropriate for Good Friday, but we didn’t have a disc...