Last night under Milan's first snowfall, Teatro alla Scala opened its 2012-13 season with a new Wagner Lohengrin from German theatre director Claus Guth. Fat snow dampened Milan's elegant opera house season premiere, sober and bloodless, packed with more politicians (PM Mario Monti trailed by five ministers), bankers, managers and high-roller business dudes than the usual pseudo-celebrities.
Newspaper coverage was as lean as this year’s crop of protestors across Piazza della Scala, who rallied about deep unemployment and job cuts (overheard, "We won't pay for your crisis.") Luckily we had Milan's die-hard art ambassadors such as Marta Marzotto, Roberto Bolle and Carla Fracci for cultural backbone, and what the audience lacked in star power twinkled from onstage -- Jonas Kaufmann as the Swan Knight, Rene Pape as Heinrich and Scala's MD Barenboim guided its orchestra into sweet deliciousness.
Nice surprise of the night? Since President Giorgio Napolitano wasn't in attendance (he was prompted a few days ago to pen a letter to Barenboim to explain his la prima della Scala absence was dictated by pre-election business -- not in protest of La Scala's decision to pass up Verdi for Wagner to open its current season in this year of Verdi/Wagner bicentennial), Barenboim relegated Inno del Regno d'Italia to post-opera with a costumed cast breaking into the national anthem at the final curtain call.
Guth's haunted, symbolically-rich tale of the Swan Knight exhibited neurotic, anxious, traumatized protagonists -- emo kids who had forgotten to take their Adderall and Zoloft -- hopeless Generation X'ers fatalistically aware that they are doomed to failure and lonliness. Props to Elsa, sung by the courageous Annette Dasch, who flew into Milan literally the evening prior to replace principal Anja Harteros, who had cancelled the final dress on December 4 and was replaced by Ann Petersen who also caught whatever illness brewed backstage and equally bowed out of opening night. Jonas Kaufmann triumphed as the barefoot son of Parsifal for his sensitive, introspective performance, followed by Ortrud's effortless Evelyn Herlitzius and Telramund's Tomas Tomasson.
OC's official reviews for Opera Now and Grazia.it exit next week. To see photos of Bolle and Fracci (and other images from opening night) hit up OC's twitter.