ACT 1: It all begins with a government crisis. Before he can go to war against the Hungarians, King Heinrich must solve a leadership dispute in Brabant, following the death of the duke. At the tribunal, Friedrich von Telramund, a nobleman from Brabant who claims the dukedom, accuses Elsa, daughter of the deceased duke, of murdering her own brother Gottfried, the legitimate heir, who has mysteriously disappeared. Ortrud, wife of Telramund, has convinced her husband that she saw Elsa secretly drowning her brother while they were out walking. But nobody suspects the truth, which is that Gottfried has been transformed into a swan by Ortrud's magic. In her own defence, Elsa summons up a vision. A knight, who has appeared to her in a dream, will fight for her innocence. The king is compelled to resolve the matter by ordering a trial by single combat, relying on God's justice to determine the outcome. The royal herald's first two summonses go unanswered, but in response to a third summons, to the astonishment of all, a knight in shining armour appears in a boat pulled by a swan with a golden chain around its neck, just as Elsa's dream had foretold. The unknown knight asks Elsa whether, if he wins on her behalf, she will marry him. Elsa trusts the stranger unconditionally and agrees, accepting his enigmatic command never to ask about his origins, his lineage or his name. The stranger then defeats Telramund but spares his life.Read more
Stein Winge (stage director), Michael Boder (mu...
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Lucerne Festival 2003