101 YEARS OLD AND STILL OFFERING MARITAL ADVICE...
HAVING just seen a glorious performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Royal Opera House, I am left with the feeling that young ladies ought to give the matter greater thought before rushing into marriage.
The plot of the opera features the usual mythical battle between good and evil with the former represented by Elsa and the hero Lohengrin who rides in on a swan to rescue her from a false accusation of fratricide made by her guardian Friedrich von Telramund.
Rather than offer evidence to support his claim, Telramund challenges any defender of Elsa to trial by combat expecting no one to accept. In the nick of time however Lohengrin swans in and magically defeats him. In exchange, Elsa agrees to marry him, which the hero goes along with on the one condition that she never asks him his name or his background.
On the day of the wedding, we see her putting on a wedding dress which descends from the sky. And that’s the first moment when I think she should have began to have doubts. It seems to me that this appearance of the dress indicates that it was bought from Amazon and delivered by drone. Is that all not a bit cheap and rushed?
After the wedding, she suffers a bad attack of PMT (Post-Marital Tension) and breaks her vow about not asking him to reveal his name and origins. He gets very angry at this, because he is a Knight of the Holy Grail and revealing his identity will break the spell that enabled him to save her. Now he must tell all who he is, leave Elsa and return to Grail-land whence he came.
The obvious legal problems that will probably ensue are not touched upon but I feel sure she will sue him for abandonment, he will try to have the marriage annulled on the grounds of non-consummation and the introduction of a new timetable for swans will be delayed for months.
Had Elsa paused to think about it, all these problems could so easily have been avoided. Instead of breaking her vow, she could surely have looked on the marriage certificate to find out his name. Even if she couldn’t read his signature, his name would almost certainly have been printed legibly next to the word “husband”.
Even if that failed, she could have use one of her lifelines to ask the audience. We had all read the synopsis in the programme and knew very well that his name was Lohengrin. It’s even there in big letters on the front as it is, after all, the title of the opera.
The moral of the myth, I suppose, is that any young lady ought not to rush things when she is saved from disaster and swept off her feet by a fellow with the good looks of a matinee idol and long, swept back blond hair, who is dressed all in white and makes a rather over-dramatic entry riding in on a boat pulled by a swan.
One can so easily be swayed by first appearances and Lohengrin’s flamboyant arrival should have made her think twice.
Personally, I always ask people’s names before marrying them. Besotted young ladies would be well advised to follow that advice.