Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival
Parzival is a major medieval German romance by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, in the Middle High German language. The poem, commonly dated to the first quarter of the 13th century, is itself largely based on Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, the Story of the Grail and mainly centers on the Arthurian...

 of Wolfram von Eschenbach
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Wolfram von Eschenbach was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of his time. As a Minnesinger, he also wrote lyric poetry.-Life:...

 and its sequel, Lohengrin
Lohengrin is a character in German Arthurian literature. The son of Parzival , he is a knight of the Holy Grail sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue a maiden who can never ask his identity. His story, which first appears in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, is a version of the Knight of the...

, written by a different author, itself inspired by the epic of Garin le Loherain
Garin le Loherain
The 12th century chanson de geste of Garin le Loherain is one of the fiercest and most sanguinary narratives left by the trouvères. This local cycle of Lorraine, which is completed by Hervis de Metz, Girbers de Metz, Ansis, fils de Girbert, and Von, appears to have an historical basis...

. It is part of the Knight of the Swan
Knight of the Swan
The story of the Knight of the Swan, or Swan Knight, is a medieval tale about a mysterious rescuer who comes in a swan-drawn boat to defend a damsel, his only condition being that he must never be asked his name...


The opera has proved inspirational towards other works of art. Among those deeply moved by the fairy-tale opera was the young King Ludwig II of Bavaria
Ludwig II of Bavaria
Ludwig II was King of Bavaria from 1864 until shortly before his death. He is sometimes called the Swan King and der Märchenkönig, the Fairy tale King...

. 'Der Märchenkönig' ('The Fairy-tale King') as he was dubbed later built his ideal fairy-tale castle and dubbed it "New Swan Stone," or "Neuschwanstein", after the Swan Knight. It was King Ludwig's patronage that later gave Wagner the means and opportunity to compose, build a theatre for, and stage his epic cycle, the Ring of the Nibelung
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...


The most popular and recognizable part of the opera is the Bridal Chorus
Bridal Chorus
The "Bridal Chorus" "Treulich geführt", from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, is a march played for the bride's entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world...

, better known as "Here Comes the Bride", often played as a processional at weddings in the West.

Performance history

The first production of Lohengrin was in Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 on 28 August 1850 at the Staatskapelle Weimar under the direction of Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, a close friend and early supporter of Wagner. Liszt chose the date in honour of Weimar's most famous citizen, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

, who was born on 28 August 1749. It was an immediate popular success.

The opera's first performance abroad was in Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 on 5 February 1855. The Austrian premiere took place at the Burgtheater
The Burgtheater , originally known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, then until 1918 as the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world.The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as "die Burg" by the...

 on 19 August 1859 with Róza Csillag
Róza Csillag
Csillag Róza , also , Rose HermannCsillag, Rosa Hermann , was a Hungarian female Jewish opera singer....

 as Ortrud. The work was produced in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 for the first time at the National Theatre on 16 June 1867 with Heinrich Vogl
Heinrich Vogl
Heinrich Vogl was a German operatic heldentenor.He played the role of Loge in Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold at Munich Court Opera on September 22, 1869, with his wife, Therese Vogl, playing the role of Wellgunde. He also played the role of Siegmund in Wagner's Die Walküre, also at Munich, on June...

 in the title role and Mathilde Mallinger
Mathilde Mallinger
Mathilde Mallinger was a famous Croatian lyric soprano opera singer.-Biography:Born as Mathilde Lichtenegger in Zagreb, the daughter of composer and teacher Vatroslav Lichtenegger, she studied singing with Giovanni Battista Gordigiani at the Prague Conservatory and with Richard Loewy in Vienna...

 as Elsa. Mallinger sang Elsa again for the work's premiere at the Berlin State Opera
Berlin State Opera
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden is a German opera company. Its permanent home is the opera house on the Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra.-Early years:...

's on 6 April 1869. The Belgian
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 premiere of the opera was given at La Monnaie
La Monnaie
Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie , or the Koninklijke Muntschouwburg is a theatre in Brussels, Belgium....

 on 22 March 1870 with Étienne Troy as Friedrich of Telramund and Feliciano Pons as Heinrich der Vogler.

The United States premiere of Lohengrin took place at the Stadt Theater
Bowery Amphitheatre
The Bowery Amphitheatre was a building in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. It was located at 37 and 39 Bowery, across the street from the Bowery Theatre. Under a number of different names and managers, the structure served as a circus, menagerie, and theatre...

 at the Bowery
Bowery may refer to:Streets:* The Bowery, a thoroughfare in Manhattan, New York City* Bowery Street is a street on Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y.In popular culture:* Bowery Amphitheatre, a building on the Bowery in New York City...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 on 3 April 1871. Conducted by Adolf Neuendorff
Adolf Neuendorff
Adolf Heinrich Anton Magnus Neuendorff, also known as Adolph Neuendorff was a German-American composer, violinist, pianist and conductor, stage director and theater manager.-Early years:...

, the cast included Theodor Habelmann as Lohengrin, Luise Garay-Lichtmay as Elsa, Marie Frederici as Ortrud, Adolf Franosch as Heinrich and Edward Vierling as Telramund. The first performance in Italy took place seven months later at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Teatro Comunale di Bologna
The Teatro Comunale di Bologna is an opera house in Bologna, Italy, and is one of the most important opera venues in Italy. Typically, it presents eight operas with six performances during its November to April season....

 on 1 November 1871 in an Italian translation by operatic baritone Salvatore Marchesi. It was notably the first performance of any Wagner opera in Italy. Angelo Mariani
Angelo Mariani (conductor)
Angelo Mariani was an Italian opera conductor and composer. His work as a conductor drew praise from Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Gioachino Rossini and Richard Wagner, and he was a longtime personal friend of Verdi's, although they became estranged towards the end of Mariani's life...

 conducted the performance, which starred Italo Campanini
Italo Campanini
Italo Campanini was a leading Italian operatic tenor, whose career reached its height in London in the 1870s and in New York in the 1880s and 1890s...

 as Lohengrin, Bianca Blume as Elsa, Maria Löwe Destin as Ortrud, Pietro Silenzi as Telramund, and Giuseppe Galvani as Heinrich der Vogler. The performance on 9 November was attended by Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

, who annotated a copy of the vocal score with his impressions and opinions of Wagner (this was almost certainly his first exposure to Wagner's music).

Lohengrins Russian premiere took place at the Mariinsky Theatre
Mariinsky Theatre
The Mariinsky Theatre is a historic theatre of opera and ballet in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Opened in 1860, it became the preeminent music theatre of late 19th century Russia, where many of the stage masterpieces of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov received their premieres. The...

 on 16 October 1868.

La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

 produced the opera for the first time on 30 March 1873, with Campanini as Lohengrin, Gabrielle Krauss as Elsa, Philippine von Edelsberg as Ortrud, Victor Maurel
Victor Maurel
Victor Maurel was a French operatic baritone who enjoyed an international reputation as a great singing-actor.-Biography:...

 as Friedrich, and Gian Pietro Milesi as Heinrich.

The United Kingdom premiere of Lohengrin took place at the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

, Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

 on 8 May 1875 using the Italian translation by Marchesi. Auguste Vianesi conducted the performance, which featured Ernesto Nicolini
Ernesto Nicolini
Ernesto Nicolini was a French operatic tenor, particularly associated with the French and Italian repertories....

 as Lohengrin, Emma Albani
Emma Albani
Dame Emma Albani DBE was a leading soprano of the 19th century and early 20th century, and the first Canadian singer to become an international star. Her repertoire focused on the operas of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Wagner...

 as Elsa, Anna D'Angeri as Ortruda, Maurel as Friedrich, and Wladyslaw Seideman as Heinrich. The opera's first performance in Australia took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

 on 18 August 1877. The Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 mounted the opera for the first time on 7 November 1883 during the company's inaugural season. Sung in Italian, Campanini portrayed the title role with Christina Nilsson
Christina Nilsson
Christina Nilsson, Countess de Casa Miranda, was a Swedish operatic soprano. She possessed a brilliant bel canto technique and was considered a rival to the Victorian era's most famous diva, Adelina Patti...

 as Elsa, Emmy Fursch-Madi as Ortrud, Giuseppe Kaschmann as Telramund, Franco Novara as Heinrich, and Auguste Vianesi conducting.
Lohengrin was first publicly performed in France at the Eden-Théâtre in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 on 30 April 1887 in a French translation by Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter
Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter
Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter was a French librettist, translator, writer and librarian born in Paris, France on 24 April 1828. He died there on 23 February 1899 after suffering a stroke a few days before.-Librettist and translator:...

. Conducted by Charles Lamoureux
Charles Lamoureux
Charles Lamoureux was a French conductor and violinist.He was born in Bordeaux, where his father owned a café. He studied the violin with Narcisse Girard at the Paris Conservatoire, taking a premier prix in 1854. He was subsequently engaged as a violinist at the Opéra and later joined the Société...

, the performance starred Ernest van Dyck
Ernest van Dyck
Ernest van Dyck was a Belgian dramatic tenor who was closely identified with the Wagnerian repertoire.A native of Antwerp, van Dyck studied both law and journalism before deciding to become an opera singer...

 as the title hero, Fidès Devriès as Elsa, Marthe Duvivier as Ortrud, Emil Blauwaert as Telramund, and Félix-Adolphe Couturier as Heinrich. There was however an 1881 French performance given as a Benefit, in the Cercle de la Méditerranée Salon at Nice, organized by Sophie Cruvelli
Sophie Cruvelli
Sophie Johanne Charlotte Crüwell, vicountess Vigier, stage name Sophie Cruvelli was a German opera singer. She was a dramatic soprano who had a brief but stellar public career especially in London and Paris in the middle years of the 19th century. She was admired for her vocal powers and as a...

, in which she took the role of Elsa. The opera received its Canadian premiere at the opera house in Vancouver on 9 February 1891 with Emma Juch
Emma Juch
Emma Juch was a popular soprano opera singer of the 1880s and 1890s from Vienna, Austria. Her married name was Emma Antonia Joanna Juch Wellman. Her name was more properly Von Juch.-Austrian family:...

 as Elsa. The Palais Garnier
Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier, , is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier...

 staged the work for the first time the following 16 September with van Dyck as Lohengrin, Rose Caron
Rose Caron
Rose Caron was a French operatic soprano.Rose Caron was born at Monnerville . She studied at the Paris Conservatoire but was not taken on at the Paris Opera; her husband, an accompanist, encouraged her to take lessons from Marie Sasse who helped her to get engagements at the opera in Brussels...

 as Elsa, Caroline Fiérens-Peters as Ortrude, Maurice Renaud
Maurice Renaud
Maurice Renaud , was a cultured French operatic baritone. He enjoyed an international reputation for the superlative quality of his singing and the brilliance of his acting.-Early years:...

 as Telramund, and Charles Douaillier as Heinrich.

The first Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 performance of the opera took place at the Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University is a coeducational, private university with campuses in Chicago, Illinois and Schaumburg, Illinois. Founded in 1945, the university is named in honor of both former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The university's curriculum is based on...

 on 9 November 1891. Performed in Italian, the production starred Jean de Reszke
Jean de Reszke
Jean de Reszke, born Jan Mieczyslaw, , was a Polish tenor. Renowned internationally for the high quality of his singing and the elegance of his bearing, he became the biggest male opera star of the late 19th century....

 as the title hero, Emma Eames
Emma Eames
Emma Eames was an American soprano renowned for the beauty of her voice. She sang major lyric and lyric-dramatic roles in opera and had an important career in New York, London and Paris during the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century.-Early life:The daughter of...

 as Elsa, and Edouard de Reszke
Edouard de Reszke
Édouard de Reszke, originally Edward, was a Polish bass from Warsaw. Born with an impressive natural voice and equipped with compelling histrionic skills, he became one of the most illustrious opera singers active in Europe and America during the late-Victorian Era.-Career:Édouard de Reszke was...

 as Heinrich.


The instrumentation is quite extensive for an orchestra of 1850. The work calls for:
  • 3 flutes (3rd doubling on piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

    ), 3 oboes (3rd doubling on English horn), 3 clarinets in A, Bes and C (3rd doubling on bass clarinet
    Bass clarinet
    The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B , but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet...

     in A, B-flat), 3 bassoons

  • 4 horns
    Horn (instrument)
    The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....

     in E, D, Es, C and G, 3 trumpets in E, D, Es and C, 3 trombones (2 tenor, 1 bass), 1 tuba
    The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...

  • Violins (1 and 2), Violas, Cellos, Double basses, Harp
    The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

  • 2 pairs of timpani
    Timpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...

    , cymbals, triangle
    A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

    , tambourine
    The tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....

There are also parts for offstage and onstage instruments. They are as follows:
  • Onstage, in every act, but on some scenes, there are four trumpets in C.
  • In Act 2, first scene there is a piccolo, two flutes, three oboes, three clarinets in A, two bassoons, three horns in E and F, three trumpets in D, three trombones, timpani, and cymbals.
  • On the third scene, there are four extra trumpets transposed in D.
  • On the fifth scene, there are six other trumpets, totaling ten trumpets in C. An organ is present also in the scene.
  • In Act 3, during the Bridal Chorus (first scene), there are three flutes, three oboes, two clarinets in B-flat, three bassoons, four horns in B and E-flat, 2 trumpets (possibly B or E-flat), a triangle, and a harp.
  • At the end of the second scene, there are four trombones.
  • At the beginning of the third scene, there are eight more trumpets, totaling twelve from the four trumpets in C.. Their transpositions come in pairs. One pair is transposed in E-flat, another in D, other in F, and the other two trumpets in E. One or two tenor drums are also present. After, all eight trumpets are transposed in F.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 28 August 1850
(Conductor: Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

Lohengrin tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

Carl Beck
Elsa of Brabant soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

Rosa von Milde-Agthe
Ortrud, Telramund's wife mezzo-soprano
A mezzo-soprano is a type of classical female singing voice whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto singing voices, usually extending from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above...

Josephine Fastlinger
Friedrich of Telramund, a Count of Brabant baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

Hans von Milde
Hans von Milde
Hans Feodor von Milde was an Austrian operatic baritone and the husband of soprano Rosa von Milde-Agthe. He sang for almost four decades at the opera house in Weimar where he particularly excelled in the works of Richard Wagner...

Heinrich der Vogler (Henry the Fowler) bass Höfer
The King's Herald baritone August Pätsch
Four Noblemen of Brabant tenors, basses
Four Pages sopranos, alto
Alto is a musical term, derived from the Latin word altus, meaning "high" in Italian, that has several possible interpretations.When designating instruments, "alto" frequently refers to a member of an instrumental family that has the second highest range, below that of the treble or soprano. Hence,...

Duke Gottfried, Elsa's brother silent Hellstedt
Saxon, Thuringian, and Brabantian counts and nobles, ladies of honor, pages, vassals, serfs

Act 1

King Henry the Fowler has arrived in Brabant
Duchy of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

 where he has assembled the German tribes in order to expel the Hungarians from his dominions. He also needs to settle a dispute involving the disappearance of the child-Duke Gottfried of Brabant. The Duke's guardian, Count Friedrich von Telramund, has accused the Duke's sister, Elsa, of murdering her brother. He calls upon the King to punish Elsa and to make him, Telramund, the new Duke of Brabant.

The King calls for Elsa to answer Telramund's accusation. She enters, surrounded by her attendants. Knowing herself to be innocent, she declares that she will submit to God's judgment through ordeal by combat. Telramund, a strong and seasoned warrior, agrees enthusiastically. When the King asks who shall be her champion, Elsa describes a knight she has beheld in her dreams (Narrative: "Alone in dark days") and sinks to her knees, praying for God to send her relief.

Twice the Herald sounds the horn in summons, without response. Then Elsa herself makes the call. A boat drawn by a swan appears on the river and in it stands a knight in shining armour. He disembarks, dismisses the swan, respectfully greets the king, and asks Elsa if she will have him as her champion. Elsa kneels in front of him and places her honour in his keeping. He asks but one thing in return for his service: she is never to ask him his name or where he has come from. Elsa agrees to this.

Telramund's people advise him to withdraw because he cannot prevail against magic, but he proudly refuses and the combat area is prepared. The company prays to the one "Herr und Gott" for victory for the one whose cause is just. Telramund's wife, Ortrud, a pagan woman, does not join the prayer of the monotheists, but privately expresses confidence that Telramund will win. The combat commences. The unknown knight defeats Telramund but spares his life. Taking Elsa by the hand, he declares her innocent and asks for her hand in marriage. The crowd exits, cheering and celebrating, and Ortrud and Telramund are left to lament their defeat.

Act 2

Night in the courtyard outside the cathedral

Telramund and Ortrud, banished, listen unhappily to the distant party-music. Ortrud, a pagan witch (daughter of Radbod
Radbod, Ratbod, Redbod, Redbad, Radboud or sometimes just Boddo could refer to one of three medieval figures:*Saint Radboud*Radbod, King of the Frisians*Radbod, Archbishop of Trier*Radbot, Count of Habsburg...

 Duke of Frisia
Frisia is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea, i.e. the German Bight. Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language...

), tries to revive Telramund's courage, assuring him that her people (and he) are destined to rule the kingdom again. She plots to induce Elsa to violate the mysterious knight's only condition.

When Elsa appears on the balcony in the twilight before dawn she hears Ortrud lamenting and pities her. While Elsa descends to open the castle door, Ortrud prays to her pagan gods, Wodan and Freia, for malice, guile, and cunning, in order to deceive Elsa and restore pagan rule to the region. When Elsa appears, Ortrud warns her that since she knows nothing about her rescuer, he could leave her any time, as suddenly as he came.

The sun rises and the people assemble. The Herald announces that Telramund is now outlawed due to the false trial, and anyone who follows Telramund is an outlaw by the law of the land. In addition, he announces that the king has offered to make the unnamed knight the Duke of Brabant; however, the Knight has declined the title, and prefers to be known only as "Leader of Brabant". The Herald further announces that the Knight will lead the people to glorious new conquests, and will celebrate the marriage of him and Elsa. Behind the crowd, four knights quietly express misgivings to each other. Telramund appears, and, concealing himself from the crowd, draws these four knights aside and assures them that he will regain his position and stop the Knight, by accusing him of magic.

As Elsa and her attendants are about to enter the church, Ortrud appears, clad in magnificent attire, and challenges Elsa to tell who her husband is, and to explain why anyone should follow him. After that, King Henry enters with the Knight. Elsa tells both of them that Ortrud was interrupting the ceremony. The Knight tells Ortrud to fall back to the crowd, then takes Elsa's hand to the wedding. The King leads at the front of the couple. When they are about to go inside the church (once more), Telramund also enters. He pleads to the king that his defeat in combat was invalid because the Knight did not give his name; trial by combat is traditionally open only to established citizens, then accuses him of magic arts. The Knight refuses to reveal his identity and claims that only one person in the world has the right to know his origin – his beloved Elsa and no other person. Elsa, though visibly shaken and uncertain, assures him of her confidence. King Henry responds to Telramund's questioning of the Knight's name to the Knight, but the nobles of Brabant and Saxony praise and give respect to the Knight. Elsa, not seeing her beloved, falls back from the crowd. Then, Ortrud and Telramund take Elsa and then try to intimidate her, and after a short while, the Knight forces both to leave the ceremony. The Knight consoles Elsa. Finally, the King, the Knight, and Elsa, together with the men and women around, go forward. Elsa takes one last look at the banished Ortrud, then they enter the church.

Act 3

Scene 1: The bridal chamber

Elsa and her new husband are ushered in with the well-known bridal chorus
Bridal Chorus
The "Bridal Chorus" "Treulich geführt", from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, is a march played for the bride's entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world...

, and the couple express their love for each other. Ortrud's words, however, are impressed upon Elsa, and, despite his warning, she asks her husband the fatal question. Before the Knight can answer, Telramund and his four recruits rush into the room in order to attack him. The knight defeats and kills Telramund. Then, he sorrowfully turns to Elsa and asks her to follow him to the king, to whom he will now reveal the mystery.

Scene 2: On the banks of the Scheldt (as in Act 1)

The troops arrive equipped for war. Telramund's corpse is brought in, Elsa comes forward, then the Knight. He discloses his identity to the king and Elsa. He tells the story of the Holy Grail
Holy Grail
The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers...

, on the Monsalvat, and reveals himself as Lohengrin, Knight of the Holy Grail and son of King Parsifal
Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail.Wagner first conceived the work...

. The time for his return has arrived and he has only tarried to prove Elsa innocent.

As he sadly bids farewell to his beloved bride, the swan reappears. Lohengrin prays that Elsa may recover her lost brother, and gives her his sword, horn and ring; which allows Elsa to remember him fully. Then, when Lohengrin tries to get in the boat, Ortrud appears. She tells Elsa that the swan who drove Lohengrin to the bank was actually Gottfried, Elsa's brother; and she put a curse on him by turning him into a swan. The people considered Ortrud guilty of witchcraft. Lohengrin prays to the swan, and the swan turns into another form, a young Gottfried. He elects him as the Duke of Brabant. Ortrud sinks as she sees him (Gottfried).

A dove descends from heaven, and, taking the place of the swan at the head of the boat, leads Lohengrin to the castle of the Holy Grail. Elsa is stricken with grief, however, and falls to the ground dead, longing for her beloved.

Notable arias and excerpts

The opera is full of 'hits' performed as concert set-pieces, namely:
  • Act I, Prelude
    Prelude (music)
    A prelude is a short piece of music, the form of which may vary from piece to piece. The prelude can be thought of as a preface. It may stand on its own or introduce another work...

  • Act I, 'Einsam in trüben Tage' (Elsa's Narrative)
  • Act I, Scene 'Wenn ich im Kampfe für dich siege'
  • Act II, 'Euch lüften, die mein Klagen' (Elsa)
  • Act II, Scene 4 opening, arranged as "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral"
  • Act III, Prelude
  • Act III, Bridal Chorus
    Bridal Chorus
    The "Bridal Chorus" "Treulich geführt", from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, is a march played for the bride's entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world...

     "Treulich geführt" arranged as "Here Comes the Bride"
  • Act III, 'Das süsse Lied verhallt' (Love duet)
  • Act III, 'Höchstes Vertrau'n' (Lohengrin's Declaration to Elsa)
  • Act III, Entry of King Henry
  • Act III, 'In fernem Land' (Lohengrin's Narration)
  • Act III, 'Mein lieber Schwan... O Elsa! Nur ein Jahr an deiner Seite' (Lohengrin's Farewell)


In their article "Elsa's reason: on beliefs and motives in Wagner's Lohengrin", Ilias Chrissochoidis and Steffen Huck propose what they describe as "a complex and psychologically more compelling account [of the opera]. Elsa asks the forbidden question because she needs to confirm Lohengrin's belief in her innocence, a belief that Ortrud successfully erodes in Act II. This interpretation reveals Elsa as a rational individual, upgrades the dramatic significance of the Act I combat scene, and, more broadly, signals a return to a hermeneutics of Wagnerian drama."


In 1907, Victor Herbert
Victor Herbert
Victor August Herbert was an Irish-born, German-raised American composer, cellist and conductor. Although Herbert enjoyed important careers as a cello soloist and conductor, he is best known for composing many successful operettas that premiered on Broadway from the 1890s to World War I...

 produced a one-act parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of Lohengrin called The Magic Knight
The Magic Knight
The Magic Knight is a one-act musical burlesque with music by Victor Herbert and a libretto by Edgar Smith. The piece parodies the Richard Wagner opera Lohengrin....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.