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Review of "The Blue Book" by Rainer Fineske
Many Wagner and Bayreuth fans are already familiar with the term "Blue Book" - and here is a review by the RWVI President
Review "The Blue Book
Lohengrin: Romantische Oper in drei Akten (German) Hardcover – 17 Sept. 2020
by Richard Wagner (Autor), Rosa Loy (Illustrator), Neo Rauch (Illustrator), Christian Thielemann (Vorwort)

This is not the title of a book, it is just called Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin" but it is the book about Richard Wagner's Lohengrin in the stage designs and costumes by Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy and the conducting under Christian Thielemann, the current music director of the Bayreuth Festival. The book contains his detailed, enthusiastic introduction to the content and music of the work as well as its current staging on the Grüner Hügel, and it is predominantly blue.

Neo Rauch is not only the stage designer of Lohengrin in Bayreuth, but also one of the most important international contemporary artists who, together with his wife, the painter Rosa Loy, designed the stage set and costumes for the new production of "Lohengrin" in Bayreuth in 2018.

Both have succeeded in creating a truly dreamlike set that literally sways back and forth in the mystical blue and brightening contrast of orange.

At times one feels transported to a variant of Arnold Böcklin's Isle of the Dead or to the reality of a transformer's house whose energies are distributed to the various protagonists, in any case not a real contrast but rather a vivid metaphor of energy currents in the two prevailing worlds of GOOD and EVIL in the world.

The "Blue Book" unfolds its special and astonishing effect through its division into the text of the libretto and the explanation of the accompanying photos with its figurines at the beginning of the book and the introduction to the musical and staging work of Christian Thielemann, which is placed at the end of the book after the reader has been led into the world of Lohengrin with his very own thoughts and with the explanations of the two contemporary artists.

The book not only arouses the greatest interest through its layout, colour and design, but also reads from beginning to end like a suspenseful musical novel from distant times that surges into our present with its texts and images; one can feel the drama of "Lohengrin" on every single page!  

Rainer Fineske