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Wagner set the action of his "romantic opera" Lohengrin in the "first half of the 10th century" - an instruction which director Wolfgang Weber and his stage designers Rudolf and Reinhard Heinrich clearly took very seriously when they produced it at the Vienna State Opera in 1990. We do indeed experience the early, gloomy Middle Ages: muted colours, dark clouds, barren landscapes and simple shapes dominate the scene. Weber's simplicity succeeds in evoking clear symbolism; his staging does not impress by means of the spectacular, but underlines the dramatic sense embodied in the music, allowing the outstanding singers full scope to express themselves in this remarkable production under Claudio Abbado. The main roles are taken by Cheryl Studer as Elsa, and Placido Domingo as Lohengrin - which he first performed as his debut role at the Hamburg State Opera in 1968, at the age of 27.