For those who missed this summer’s performance of the Ring Cycle, LA Opera will bring Richard Wagner back to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a presentation of his 1850 opera Lohengrin, proclaimed to be the most lyrical of the composer’s operas. Conducted by LA Opera music director and Wagnerite James Conlon, the production will feature several Wagnerian artists including Canadian tenor Ben Heppner in the title role. Having first garnered national attention after winning the CBC Talent Festival in 1979, Heppner here returns to his most frequently performed role.

Wagner derives the story of Lohengrin from German Arthurian literature, the eponymous hero being a knight of the Holy Grail and the son of the knight Percival. In the beginning of the opera, this mysterious knight arrives from nowhere to defend Elsa, a noblewoman wrongfully accused of fratricide. The knight asks Elsa if she will have him as her champion, but makes her promise to never ask him for his name, his place of origin, or his lineage. Elsa agrees and Lohengrin defeats her accuser, Telramund, in battle, proclaiming Elsa’s innocence. However, Telramund and his new wife Ortrud conspire to expose Lohengrin as a sorceror, and they thus concoct a plan to make Elsa suspicious of her hero.

LA Opera’s production of the opera will draw on imagery from the World War I era. The director of the production Lydia Steier says, “The key to the 2010 production of Lohengrin at LA Opera is the issue of dogma: religious dogma and militaristic dogma, centrally.” This production will explore the ways in which dogma and doubt counteract each other and muddle our perceptions of miracles.

I had the pleasure of seeing LA Opera’s performances of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung this summer and was blown away by the brilliant production and of course by Wagner’s ethereal yet thunderous music. James Conlon performs each piece with perfection. Even if the title of the opera, Lohengrin, seems unfamiliar, I know for a fact that everyone has heard the famous Bridal Chorus, since it has become the traditional wedding march “Here Comes the Bride.” The show provides an excellent opportunity not only for diehard Wagnerites, but for lovers of music, theater, and literature alike. Ticket prices range from $20 to $270. The opera will play 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, 4 and 9; 2 p.m. Nov. 28 and Dec. 12.

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