There’s obvious irony in a Hungarian directing Wagner’s Lohengrin; even more so when that director sees in Wagner’s Brabant parallels with Orban’s Hungary. It’s quite interesting to see how this plays out in Árpád Schilling’s production recorded at Staatsoper Stuttgart in 2018. The first thing to say is that this is an extremely minimalist production with a circle on stage , a curved back wall and not much else, though a bed appears in Act 3. It’s very monochrome; the stage and the characters are all more or less in shades of grey until late in the second act when the Vier Edelknaben (here definitely women) and then the chorus appears in colourful but still eclectically modern, casual outfits. The only real device for telling the story, apart, from the words and music, is the way groups of characters are arranged on stage.
Der Prinz von Homburg is a 1960 opera by Hans Werner Henze setting a libretto by Ingeborg Bachmann based on an 1811 play by Heinrich von Kleist. The essential context is Henze and Bachmann’s rejection of German militarism and authoritarianism that they believed was being built back into the new German Federal Republic. It has been enjoying something of a revival in the last few years, perhaps as a result of the resurgence of the Fascist/nationalist right, with multiple productions in Germany including one in Stuttgart in 2019 which was recorded for video.
Aida Garifullina is a young lyric soprano of Tatar origin who already has some interesting achievements under her belt. She played Lily Pons in the Florence Foster Jenkins movie, placed first at Operalia in 2013, has sung a string of -ina roles at the Marinsky and is currently a member of the ensemble at the Wiener Staatsoper. She’s also done concert work with the likes of Dmitri Hvostorovsky and Andrea Bocelli. Now she’s released a debut CD called Aida Garifullina recorded with the ORF Radio-Symponieorchester Wien and Cornelius Meister.