Free Lohengrin: drown that swan – 40,000 flock to see it

Free Lohengrin: drown that swan – 40,000 flock to see it


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2011

No, let me read that again.

Reports of a free Lohengrin in Bayreuth brought to  mind happy images of joyous liberators dunking that infernal white beast.

But a second reading of the German report turns out to be just another open-air family outing this afternoon of the old smoocher.

Die Siemens Festspielnacht auf dem Bayreuther Festplatz. Foto: SiemensThe performance, conducted by Andris Nelsons, drew a crowd of 40,000 on a sunny afternoon to watch the transmission on a 180 square metre screen. Broadcast relays, however, were marred by breakups. Siemens provided the sponsorship and hi-tech. Here’s a Hamburger Abendblatt report and picture.




  • Norman, you’ve slightly misread the story. The people watching on the big screen in Bayreuth were fine – there were no technical problems for them. The problems were for those trying to watch the simultaneous broadcast on the TV channel Arte. It’s in the third paragraph of the Hamburger Abendblatt: “On the other hand, TV Viewers who had chosen to watch the broadcast on Arte found they had bad tickets… After 25 minutes, the pictures broke off. It wasn’t until shortly before the end of the first act that viewers were back live again. In the meantime, Arte switched over to a documentary about the opera star Jonas Kaufmann”.

    We were fortunate enough to see Parsifal in the Festspielhaus last Tuesday, thansk to the great kindness of friends who made it possible, and heard about the Bayreuth equivalent of “Opera in the Piazza”. It’s very good to hear that this seems to have been such a success – 40,000 people is a pretty good turnout.

    All the very best


  • Eduardo says:

    let’s make this absolutely clear for everybody.
    The TV broadcast was interrupted after about 25/30 minutes (I must check I recorded the whole thing) and then after about 5/7 minutes we were treated to Jonas Kaufmann singing Tamino’s first aria from Die Zauberfloette followed by part of Florestan’s opening aria from Fidelio which never reached its conclusion because the broadcast was resumed at the precise moment where it was interrupted.
    after that all went perfectly fine, the rats behaved well, they did not bite anybody even if Neuenfels (the producer) would have liked to inflict some “bites” on us.
    on a more serious note I am very very sorry that my friend Jose Luis Garcia died, he was a very fine man as well as a damn good violin player.
    keep up the good work Norman!!
    Eduardo J Benarroch from Berlin

  • And did the Swan survive this or was it hurled into the world of digital specters?