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  Act 1

Scene 1:
Misty Morning
Misty Morning.
  Antwerp, in the 10th century. The Duke of Brabant has died. He has left his son Gottfried and daughter Elsa into the care of earl Friedrich of Telramund, his most loyal commander. Just before his death, the Duke has promised Elsa in marriage to Friedrich. Elsa however refuses.

King Heinrich der Vogler, with his armies, comes to Brabant to gather all able men. He will wage war against the savage Hungarians from the East, they refuse to pay taxes to the German Kingdom any longer.
  King Heinrich has heard rumours concerning problems which have arisen after the death of the Duke of Brabant and asks Friedrich of Telramund for an explanation. He tells how one day Gottfried disappeared in the forest and could not be found. Before the King, Friedrich accuses Elsa of fratricide and of seeing a secret lover with whom she wants to rule Brabant. Furthermore he claims his right to the throne and introduces his wife Ortrud, a descendant from the old pagan Friesian Royal House of Radbod.

Scene 2:

Elsa is called before King Heinrich, to answer the charge of Friedrich. Elsa reacts by telling her dream about a knight, who will come to her aid. The King trusts in God's Judgement, and Elsa's champion is called by sounding the trumpet. When the unknown knight does not appear, Elsa kneels down in prayer to ask God for his arrival.
Scene 3:

Suddenly on the horizon, a knight appears in a small boat on the river the Schelde, leaning on his sword. The small boat is pulled by a swan. The knight wants to be Elsa's champion if he can win her as spouse. Elsa says yes. The knight, however, sets a strict condition: Elsa may never ask from where he came, his name or his origin. Elsa makes a solemn promise.

In the ensuing fight, the mysterious knight overcomes earl Friedrich of Telramund and spares his life. The innocence of Elsa has been proven, Friedrich of Telramund has lost his honour.
Lohengrin's Arrival
Lohengrin's Arrival.
Act 2

Scene 1:

Evening falls, Friedrich is in despair over his lost honour. Ortrud lost her chance of ruling Brabant. Friedrich has accused Elsa, based upon a testimony of Ortrud. Ortrud claims to have seen the fratricide. Moreover, with her talent for prophecy, she predicted the return of the old Royal House of Radbod, so Friedrich would marry her. Now Friedrich accuses Ortrud of deceit, since he lost the fight under God's Judgement. Ortrud sticks to her original testimony and accuses the knight of using magic to win the fight. She craves revenge and thinks of a way to get rid of this mysterious knight. The scheme is that Friedrich will accuse the knight of deceiving God, and will try to wound him. The loss of even the smallest part of his body will annul his magic. Ortrud for her part will try to befriend Elsa and rouse her curiosity, so she will be seduced to ask the forbidden question.

Scene 2:

When Elsa appears on the balcony, Friedrich quickly hides himself. Ortrud calls Elsa, and arouses her compassion as a wife of a man, who has committed perjury. While Elsa is coming down, Ortrud calls upon the Germanic Gods to aid her revenge on the Christians. Elsa lets Ortrud in and invites her to be present at her wedding ceremony.

Scene 3:

Dawn. A crowd has gathered in front of the church. The King's herald announces the banishment of Friedrich of Telramund. The Knight of the Swan will inherit crown and land of Brabant, his title will be "Protector of Brabant". Today he will marry Elsa before God, tomorrow he will lead the King's armies against the hordes from the East.

Scene 4:

Elsa and her retinue proceed to the church for the wedding ceremony. When the procession headed by Elsa wants to ascend the stairs, Ortrud comes forward and claims precedence of Elsa. Why should Elsa have more rights with a spouse whose origin is unknown? Elsa answers the knight is so noble and pure, he is raised far beyond all doubt.

Scene 5:

The King and the Swan-knight appear at the scene and the King asks who dares disturb the ceremony. Then Friedrich steps forward and accuses the knight of deceit at the trial, yesterday. He orders the knight to make himself known. The Swan-knight answers that only to Elsa he is accountable. All the nobles agree. Secretly, Friedrich whispers in Elsa's ear, he can give certainty about the true nature of the knight. Only the loss of the smallest particle of his body will reveal the truth, and forever he will be bound to Elsa. This evening Friedrich intends to unmask the knight. As the knight sees Friedrich with Elsa, he gets furious with Friedrich and Ortrud. He asks Elsa wether she wants to ask the question, but Elsa overcomes her doubt and proclaims her faith in him. The wedding ceremony can finally take place.
Lohengrin & Elsa
Lohengrin & Elsa.
  Act 3

Scene 1: It is evening and the wedding is at an end. The bridal couple is accompanied to their chamber and then left alone.

Scene 2: For the first time since their encounter, Elsa and her knight are alone. Together they look back on the events which brought them together. Elsa can no longer control herself and urged by an inner desire she asks the forbidden question; his name and origin.
  At that moment Friedrich, armed with a sword, storms into the chamber. Just in time Elsa can pass the knight his sword and with a powerful blow, he kills Friedrich. The question is asked and the sad knight orders servants to royally dress Elsa, for the day to come. Tomorrow, in the presence of all people and King he will answer Elsa's question.

Scene 3:

Morning comes and trumpets sound, the legions of the King come together. As people and King are present the knight steps forward and reveals the dead body of Friedrich, the King recognises this as an action of self-defence. Then the knight announces, the moment has come to tell who he is. The tension mounts and everyone listens in great expectation. He is a knight of the Holy Grail, son of Parzival, King of the Grail. His name is Lohengrin.

A knight exposed, must return to the Holy Grail, thus exalted is the Grail's blessing. Lohengrin cannot lead the armies of Germany into battle, but promises King Heinrich final victory will be his. Elsa begs Lohengrin to remain, but already the swan is in sight. Lohengrin promises Elsa, Gottfried her lost brother, will return in one year. Lohengrin leaves behind his horn, sword and ring, to be given to Gottfried. The horn to call for aid, the sword for victory. The ring to remember Lohengrin, who delivered Elsa from dishonour and distress.

When Lohengrin wants to depart, Ortrud bursts out in wild jubilation and calling upon the Gods of old, she proclaims that it was she who transformed Gottfried into this swan. If Lohengrin had stayed longer, he would have broken the spell. Lohengrin kneels down in prayer. The white dove of the Grail descends from the sky and gratefully Lohengrin releases the swan of its golden collar. The swan disappears under water and Lohengrin brings Gottfried ashore, the heir of Brabant. The white dove carries the small boat with Lohengrin, back into the distance. As Lohengrin slowly disappears from sight, Elsa falls lifeless into the arms of Gottfried.
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