Wagner back at HGO

The last time the Houston Grand Opera presented a Wagner-opera was Tannhäuser in 2001. Now, finally, Wagner is back, with a spectacular production of Lohengrin in a co-production with the Grand Théatre de Genève in Switzerland.  Simon O’Neill sings Lohengrin, Adrianne Pieczonka Elsa, and Maestro Patrick Summers makes it all come together.







If you think the concept of a four and a half-hour opera sounds a little scary, I promise you there’s a reason Richard Wagner is considered one of the greatest composers ever. Whether you’re in the audience or part of the production, you get mesmerized by the story and the music.

The first complete Wagner-opera I played was Tristan and Isolde with the Royal Opera in Stockholm, Sweden, last year. Everybody kept telling me it would be a great experience, but I wasn’t really looking forward to spending five hours in the pit, counting rests. How wrong I was! I was completely captivated, by the music, the story, the skill of the singers. That they can be heard over an 80-piece orchestra is beyond me!

Lohengrin is considered Wagner’s “Italian” opera, not because it’s particularly Italian in style, but probably because it’s full of melodies familiar even to the casual listener. Pretty much everybody would recognize the Bridal March from the third act (“Here comes the bride”), the Preludes to the both the first and third acts are also famous pieces.

For you trombone-geeks: My friend Terry the Repair Guy is building me an old Conn 88H Elkhart with a Kanstul CR Open Wrap-trigger. Hopefully I’ll get it next week, report to follow. It should be good!

More trombone-geek stuff: I had the opportunity to try a German Lätzsch 210 trombone for a couple of weeks. A very different animal, at least for me who’ve always played American horns. Beutifully made with a warm pleasant sound, but in the end I still prefer my old Conn.