On the banks of the Scheldt, the German king draws a circle of justice around the base of an ancient oak tree where nobles, knights and commoners have gathered. The heiress of Brabant, Elsa, is accused of fratricide, conspiracy and lust by her former suitor, Friedrich von Telramund. The sound of the royal herald’s trumpet proclaims the combat by ordeal: a champion is called to fight the accuser and prove the young woman’s innocence before God. As Elsa falls to her knees in prayer, a boat drawn by a swan appears in a halo of light, carrying a knight in shining armour. He agrees to defend her on condition that she never asks him where he comes from. She agrees, but will she honour her promise after witnessing such a miracle?
The character of the Swan Knight appears in several chansons de geste and mediaeval tales. In the early 13th century, the German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach tied the figure to the Arthurian legends of the guardians of the Holy Grail in his epic Parzival, whose mystical allusions strongly influenced Richard Wagner (1813-1883) in his later years. After an absence of thirty years, Lohengrin finally returns to the OnR in a production by Florent Siaud and a debut performance by Michael Spyres in the title role. Aziz Shokhakimov directs this monumental Romantic opera with a fascinating and mysterious beauty.
Overtitled in French, German