Approximate Running Time: Four hours, 20 minutes, with 2 intermissions

In German with English captions

What's Going On?

When King Heinrich of Saxony arrives at Brabant castle, Telramund and his wife, the pagan princess Ortrud, tell the king that the state of Brabant is suffering.  Gottfried, the heir to the late Duke, has disappeared.  Telramund and Ortrud accuse Gottfried’s sister, Elsa, of murdering Gottfried to inherit his wealth and lands.  Heinrich allows for a “trial of arms” against Telramund’s accusations.  If Elsa can find a champion to defeat Telramund, she proves her innocence.  But not one of the Brabant nobles is willing to fight for Elsa. 

Elsa, however, has dreamed of a defender, a knight in shining armor.  She prays for that knight to come to her, and, to the amazement of all, he appears with a boat guided by a white swan.  The unknown knight declares that he has come to save Elsa. He promises to be the protector of Elsa’s kingdom and become her husband, but he warns Elsa that she must never ask his name or origin. Elsa agrees to his terms.  The knight easily defeats Telramund and spares his life.

Furious at losing their bid for the castle, Ortrud and Telramund begin to challenge Elsa’s devotion to her knight. If he arrived so magically and has no name, he could leave as easily, suggests Ortrud.

On their wedding night, Elsa can no longer stifle her curiosity and asks her new husband the fatal questions about his name and home. He tells her that she has broken the spell that allowed him to remain at Brabant and he must leave her.  Telramund and four nobles break into the bedchamber. Telramund attacks the knight and is killed.  The knight tells the nobles to bear away Telramund’s body.  The knight must now leave Brabant, but he will answer Elsa’s questions publicly before he goes.

Before King Heinrich, the knight tells the court that he is Lohengrin, a knight of the Holy Grail.  Lohengrin announces he must return to the Grail, but he promises Elsa that her brother will come back to Brabant.  Ortrud reveals that she enchanted Gottfried and turned him into a swan. Lohengrin prays, Ortrud’s spell is broken, and Gottfried appears.  Brokenhearted at the loss of the noble knight, Elsa and the people of Brabant watch as Lohengrin sails away.


Receive all the latest news from Seattle Opera plus special offers too.

Sign Up Today

Listen KING FM Seattle Opera Channel Available On-line 24 hrs a day!

Listen Here

Check out and Subscribe to the Seattle Opera YouTube Channel!

Watch Videos

Photo Credit

© Seattle Opera photo