Saturday is the premiere of the new Herheim/Barenboim Lohengrin at Staatsoper in Berlin. Both René Pape and Burkhard Fritz cancelled, and in came Kwanchul Youn and Klaus Florian Vogt.
The last weeks have been pretty hectic at Staatsoper, it seems. Daniel Barenboim didn't want to play the prelude with the curtain up. To Shirley Apthorp he says “With Wagner the whole world of the opera to come is expressed in the prelude. If the curtain is down, you create your own associations, and I think the experience is richer.” Daniele Gatti had the same objection in Bayreuth last summer. Thank heaven that Herheim won that dispute, for without the pantomime showing the death of Parsifal's mother Herzeleide the production had been less fascinating. I am sure even Barenboim would agree that the staging of the Parsifal Vorspiel at Bayreuth was necessary. Some would even say ingenious. I don't know how serious the "disagreement" between Herheim and Barenboim has been. If someone disagrees, it is often distorted in the media and interpreted as much more than it in reality is. It starts with "disagreement", later becomes "conflict" and before you can say the Lord's Prayer it is referred to as "war".
I must say I am very surprised reading about Barenboims objections. Weren't all the Vorspiels in Kupfer's Ring played to an open curtain?
A pre-production interview with dramaturg Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach on Wagneropera.net reveals that we can expect a not exactly traditional Lohengrin, with extensive use of marionettes (!), many of them obviously looking like der Meister.
Feel free to comment on the production if you are attending!