Wagner: Lohengrin - Kollo, Tomowa-Sintow, Schröder-Feinen, Nimsgern, Ridderbusch; Karajan. Salzburg, 1976
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I can’t think of a conductor better suited to tackling Lohengrin than Herbert von Karajan. In the wrong hands this opera can seem like a standard issue grand opera with arias, choruses and ensembles. Karajan manages to extract exquisite lyricism and delicate colors from chorus, orchestra and soloists, demonstrating that even though the conventions of this opera may owe a lot to Meyerbeer, it was clearly a pivot towards Wagner’s mature style. As usual, Karajan spares no expense in casting the opera with some of the finest singers of the day. René Kollo brings a nice vocal blend of the dramatic and lyrical in the title role. Anna Tomowa-Sintow is radiant as Elsa, whether floating pianissimo high notes in her opening aria or standing up to the formidable Ortrud of Ursula Schröder-Feinen in their Act II confrontation. The sound is excellent.