Music: Lohengrin Without Feathers

During a now notorious production of Lohengrin, Vienna's late, famed Tenor Leo Slezak missed his entrance cue (so the story goes), and the swan appeared onstage alone, drawing an empty skiff. During the ensuing flap, Tenor Slezak's voice was clearly heard from the wings, in the manner of an annoyed traveler addressing the stationmaster: "When does the next swan leave?"

The incident could not have happened last week at Bayreuth, where Richard Wagner's grandson Wieland staged a Lohengrin so abstract that the swan was merely a sketchily suggested stationary prop, while the hero made his exit on a descending elevator platform. Since...

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