Wilson's Lohengrin Meets With a Chorus of Disapproval in NY

News   Wilson's Lohengrin Meets With a Chorus of Disapproval in NY Avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson's production of Wagner's Lohengrin opened to boos and jeers Mar. 9 at the Metropolitan Opera in NY.

Avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson's production of Wagner's Lohengrin opened to boos and jeers Mar. 9 at the Metropolitan Opera in NY.

The crowd responded warmly to conductor James Levine and to the performers, but expressed harsh disapproval for Wilson's stark, minimalist staging for the fantastical opera, according to various accounts.

The production has additional performances scheduled for Mar. 13, 17, 21, 25 and 28 and April 2.

All performances are scheduled to be conducted by Levine. The opening night cast included soprano Deborah Voigt (who triumphed earlier this season in the Met's Ariadne auf Naxos) as the politically betrayed Elsa and tenor Ben Heppner as Lohengrin, the knight who comes to her defense.

Wilson is also the set designer for this production, which contains such signature touches as stark, oversize images and an almost hypnotizing use of color (in this case, lots of blue) and light. Texas-born Wilson, 56, has long been regarded as one of the leading figures in the avant-garde theatre world (with such landmark '70s works as The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin and A Letter for Queen Victoria to his credit. His recent work, Time Rocker, a collaboration with Lou Reed, opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last fall.

Among the operas he has designed and directed are Parsifal (Hamburg and Houston, 1991-92), The Magic Flute (Paris, 1991), Madama Butterfly (Paris, 1993), Bluebeard's Castle (Salzburg, 1995, and Zurich, 1996), Ewartung (Salzburg, 1995) and Pelleas and Melisande (Paris and Salzburg, 1997). Wilson also directed Alceste starring Jessye Norman (with Voigt in subsequent performances) a few seasons back at Chicago Lyric Opera.

Wilson's upcoming productions include Ibsen's Lady from the Sea (with Susan Sontag) opening in May in France and Italy.

Lohengrin has not been seen at the Met since the 1985-86 season, and is a "hard to get" ticket (several performances are already sold out).

The Mar. 21 matinee performance of Lohengrin is a live radio broadcast scheduled for 12:30-5:05 ET (check your listings).

For tickets, call (212) 362-6000.

-- By Sean McGrath and Rebecca Paller

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