Once Wagner's most popular opera, Lohengrin has suffered scholarly neglect in the post-war period. This essay re-engages with the work from the novel perspective of game theory analysis. Centring on Elsa's breach of the Frageverbot, it offers a close epistemological study of the opera's main characters. As an alternative to traditional interpretations of the heroine's fatal decision, we propose a complex and psychologically more compelling account. Elsa asks the forbidden question because she needs to confirm Lohengrin's belief in her innocence, a belief that Ortrud successfully erodes in Act II. This interpretation reveals Elsa as a rational individual, upgrades the dramatic significance of the Act I combat scene, and, more broadly, signals a return to a hermeneutics of Wagnerian drama.
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