Elsa von Brabant

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(Wagner: Lohengrin). Sop. Ward of Telramund and sister of Gottfried, the heir to the Brabant throne. Telramund suspects her (wrongly) of murdering her brother. Telramund is in love with her and offended by her refusal to marry him. He accuses her and she stands trial before King Heinrich, refusing to defend herself. She describes a dream in which a knight offered to protect her. In answer to her prayers Lohengrin appears, ready to fight in her defence and declare her innocent. He asks her to marry him and when she agrees tells her that she must never ask him his name or whence he came, a condition to which she consents. Ortrud, now Telramund's wife, preys on Elsa's innocence to make her doubt Lohengrin's integrity, but later attacks her, forcing her to have doubts about her heroic knight. After their wedding, Elsa is unable to contain herself and starts to question Lohengrin about where he comes from and what she should call him. Despite all his warnings to her to trust him, she persists in her questioning. They are interrupted by the arrival of Telramund and his men, ready to fight. Lohengrin kills him. He then accuses Elsa, in front of the king, of betraying his trust and they all condemn her. Lohengrin announces his name and as he does so the boat and swan appear and Elsa realizes that, by her curiosity and insistence, she has lost the man she loves. The swan turns into her brother Gottfried, released by Lohengrin from Ortrud's spell, and as Lohengrin sails away, Elsa collapses in her brother's arms. Aria: Einsam in trüben Tagen (‘When all my hopes departed’); duet (with Lohengrin): Fühl ich zu dir so süss mein Herz entbrennen (‘Here in my heart a flame is brightly burning’). Among famous interpreters are Lilian Nordica, Emma Eames, Maria Müller, Eleanor Steber, Maria Reining, Marianne Schech, Helen Traubel, Birgit Nilsson, Elisabeth Grümmer, Heather Harper, Hannelore Bode, Gundula Janowitz, Cheryl Studer, and Karita Mattila. Created (1850) by Rosa Agthe (later Rosa Agthe‐Milde).

Subjects: Opera.

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