Maestro quits Vienna after tenor tiff

The French conductor Betrand de Billy has stormed out of the Vienna State Opera’s new Lohengrin after differences of opinion wkth the director Andreas Homoki and the star tenor Klaus Florian Vogt. ‘It’s about two minutes of music in an opera that lasts four and a half hours,’ sighed opera boss Dominique Meyer.

The Finnish conductor Mikko Franck jumps in.

klaus florian vogt

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      • There’s no mystery, Derek. It’s printed in the Peters piano score (pp 245 – 258) and removes a pretty punishing concertato (at least for Lohengrin) which doesn’t even contribute to the plot. Lohengrin’s last words in this cut section would have been:

        ‘Nach Deutschland sollen noch in fernsten Tagen des Ostens Horden siegreich nimmer ziehn!’

        …a text which many are happy to see disappear with the rest of the ensemble.

        Klaus is a very cooperative colleague as well as an extraordinarily resistent Lohengrin, so if he raised a red flag about this passage (which we don’t even know for certain) then his opinion needs to be respected.

  • i don’t mean to defend Maestro de Billy, since I don’t know the details of what happened. But even if the cut is short and traditional one shoudn’t the conductor , who is in charge of the music, have his say? why is it that nowadays directors have always the last word? it is after all a premiere of Lohengrin at the Wiener Staatsoper and to want to do the opera without cuts does not sound unreasonable. Its’ not a question of length , it’s a question of principle . In the later reprises of the opera at a rep house like Vienna, the cut could be easily introduced. Leaving the production might be seen as exaggerated by most people, but honestly it’s about time conductors put their feet down and defended the music.

  • I’ve had the pleasure to work with de Billy on several occasions. For me one of the finest conductors and nicest people I’ve met in the business.

    Very surprised to read about this kind of thing.

    Sure he must have had his reasons.

  • If this is about the traditional cut (act 3 scene iii, from from the third bar after reh. no. 64 to 4 bars after no. 73 (Breitkopf orchestral score), then it is important to remember that this cut of the 2nd part of Lohengrin’s narrative was suggested by the composer, in his letter to Liszt (July 2, 1850) in preparation for the world premiere at Weimar.

    Wagner said: “I have often gone through the whole thing on my own, and become convinced that this second section of the narration is bound to produce something of an anticlimax. This passage should therefore also be removed at once from the libretti.” Earlier in the letter he even says: “I would insist that the passage indicated be omitted.” (Transl. Spencer & Millington, “Selected Letters of RW, Norton, 1987.)

    With all due respect to maestro de Billy, there is also the problem that just about any Lohengrin you can think of would be very happy to have this cut; the role is quite strenuous, without the anti-climactic “second section.”

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