Post by REP
I don't mind Beczala singing at Bayreuth. My surprise was more due to the fact that I didn't know he was transitioning into Wagner. Alagna, though? I can't even imagine it.
Beczala is pretty good on the Dresden DVD with Netrebko, though he's rather a stuffed stage presence -- I've seen and heard worse, though. But Alagna doesn't surprise me as much as all that. Lohengrin can be approached from two directions, either as a role for lyrical-sounding heldentenors or as part of a natural transition among maturing lyric tenors, from roles like Rodolfo and Tamino to lyrico-spinto like Faust, Don Jose, and perhaps the Prince in Rusalka, from which Lohengrin isn't such an enormous advance. It's a progression Nicolai Gedda made, for example, with real credit, and Francisco Araiza, with some. Sometimes, of course, it's just that they're no longer worried about damaging a voice that's already degenerating, but it can also reflect a genuine growth in power and the ability to pace such a role. I often wonder if Fritz Wunderlich would have gone that way, if he'd survived.
Post by REP
The rest of the performers? I don't know. Thielemann surprised me at times, and not necessarily in a good way. His tempi were recklessly fast during the purely orchestral moments, such as the prelude to Act 2 and the transition into Elsa's balcony scene. I wonder if this is a byproduct of increasingly short attention spans, and Thielemann was rushing the tempi on purpose. If that's the case, then I can't say I blame him -- the cello-bass solo that opens Act II can be a bit of a drag -- but it was a shock, nonetheless.
I can't agree -- the whole scene is one of the most impressive bits in the work, looking forward to the atmosphere and coloration of works to come. Done properly, the cello line should generate tension and a sense of impending evil -- uncoiling, as Meyers says in the Newman quote. It wouldn't surprise me if Thielmann mucked it up, because I've never thought that much of him anyway. Kempe, for me, does a better job.