9th of January 2020


Finally Vienna: Linda Watson is interpreting ORTRUD in Wagner's "Lohengrin"



On the world's different stages Linda Watson already made the audience happy with her impressive Ortrud.

Finally, in her adopted hometown Vienna she is singing this special role under the button of Valery Gergiev.


Egils Silins (Telramund), Linda Watson (Ortrud)







"The Ortrud was sung by Linda Watson in a great voice, ... both the "entweihte Götter" and the end come off very impressively."

(Heinrich Schramm-Schliessl, 10.01.2020 in Der Neue Merker)





"Linda Watson is her (Elsa of Cornelia Beskow) as Ortrud an excellent opponent who uses her vocal power skilfully, but also lets her poison dribble suggestively with well-dosed mildness."

(Wiener Zeitung, 10.01.2020)





"Cornelia Beskow can learn a lot in terms of Wagner from the proven Linda Watson, who has been part of the first guard of Wagner heroin since her Bayreuth Kundry debut in 1998 at the latest and has made a name for herself worldwide as Brünhilde. This time, when she made her role debut as Ortrud, the dramatic soprano moved to lower voices. Mezzo-sopranos are often used for this game - not without reason. Watson sings intensely, goes to her vocal limits and delivers the impressive portrait of an injured sorceress and seducer who craves revenge, who mourns the old pagan world order and her gods and wants to rebuild them. Her relationship with her husband Telramund is initially similar to that between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, but unlike Shakespeare, Telramund is unable to emancipate himself from his dominant wife."

(Manfred A. Schmid, online-merker)








Dennis Russell Davies, Dirigent

Boleslaw Barlog, Regie

Jürgen Rose, Ausstattung


Linda Watson, Ortrud

Piotr Beczala / Klaus Florian Vogt, Lohengrin

Cornelia Beskow, Elsa

Egils Silins, Friedrich von Telramund

Ain Anger, König Heinrich

Boaz Daniel, Heerrufer


Two days before the premiere, Linda Watson gave an interview to the dramaturge of the Vienna State Opera, Oliver Láng. Below are the passages related to their role as Ortrud:


What about Ortrud? Do you develop sympathy, or at least understanding, in the course of employment?


Linda Watson:
Understand! That is a good point! You have to learn to understand Ortrud! I had my first Lohengrin production in Bayreuth, the director was Keith Warner, I sang in this production for five years. Warner, a brilliant director, told me that Ortrud is not a one-sided character, she is not just "bad". You shouldn't play it so straight forward. She doesn't show her true feelings directly, but only behind Elsa's back. The audience sees this and can virtually look into the soul life of Ortrud. Then you suddenly see the vulnerable, an unloved childhood, an unloved woman. When you dig into this character, it blooms. Then Ortrud becomes a complete person, not just Elsa's dark opponent.


In any case, she is Lohengrin's dark, manipulative opponent.


Linda Watson:

Yes, but why is she the way she is? Because she wants her clan to stay in power. That's what she's fighting for. For their gods. For their religion. We all know what it's like when a belief is deep inside us, possibly taken over by the parents. We want to defend them. Everything suddenly changes for Ortrud, she remains alone in her existence. And she fights against it


After all, she still has her husband.


Linda Watson:

Who also lost everything. I find the relationship between the two particularly exciting. There seems to be something animal between them, an enormously strong sexual drive. Something that keeps the two together. An attraction that always brings him back. She enjoys it - and so does he. Ortrud may be angry, but she is also a woman, a person - and I want to show that. All of these fragments of character have to be brought to the surface as an Ortrud actress, not just playing the nagging, wicked witch with the big voice. So it's about understanding their depth. I don't have to like them. It is only important to me that it has more than one dimension.


Is there such a thing as a personal Ortrud view, regardless of all directors?


Linda Watson:
Yes, there are. My Ortrud, so to speak. A view of the person who always stays with me and becomes more and more differentiated, more precise and more detailed, with every production, every performance. Whether I like a production or not - I always win something and can always sharpen the profile of the character. With every confrontation, new windows open, sometimes small, sometimes large. The character becomes more and more rich.


Many of your colleagues rave about taking something from their roles into life. A wisdom, an insight. This is of course easy and easy for the Marshal. But with the Ortrud?


Linda Watson:
So I'm not taking anything into my life. Not by the Ortrud, not by everyone else. For me it is the other way round, I give the stage character something of mine. That's what makes good theater, that you bring in something and fill a fantasy figure with life. The great Hofmannsthal texts, they offer so much, if you mix it with your personal experience, the characters come to life.


When personal experience comes into play, it also means that the characters inevitably change.


Linda Watson:
Of course, as you mature, what you give to a character becomes more and more dense. These developments should not be underestimated: when I gave my first marshal 20 years ago, my understanding of the figure was different than it is today. Now I understand it much more deeply. When I sang it here it was so moving, so touching for me! It was such a WOW moment.


Is such a WOW moment rather inspiring or maybe even irritating, because you have to stay controlled after all?


Linda Watson:
The emotions were good for the game, but you always have to keep your distance in vocals. I have to protect my voice from "too much". But this applies in principle to all games and appearances. You have to be careful there.