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In this production, Ye Olde Nuremberg is reimagined as the arts department at, let's say, Nuremberg Community College. The acts feature a multi-tiered set, with Act I in the library and Act II in the cafeteria. This "Song-school" is run by the Masters and administered by David. Sachs' apprentice (Norbert Ernst) is an academic pedant who spends his time distributing the arcane rules of the Mastersingers in little yellow rule-books. Walther enters this world as the bad-boy artist in leather and shades, painting furiously on musical instruments, the walls, even David himself in his attempts to break out of the old order. He is sung by Klaus Florian Vogt: a pleasing, if smallish tenor that can handle the role's high tetessitura. His good looks recall the late Peter Hofmann.
Hans Sachs (Franz Hawlata) enters as a barefoot, chain-smoking journalist--the rebel within the Mastersinger clique. Mr. Hawlata delivers a solid Sachs, using his skills as a compelling actor to support the two big monologues. In Act II, the cobbler's last is replaced by a typewriter, which Sachs clicks and clacks on during Beckmesser's song, damning the Marker's performance with keystrokes instead of hammer-blows. The hero of Wagner's opera has become Eduard Hanslick, the Vienna music critic who was both Wagner's nemesis and the inspiration for Sixtus Beckmesser. In Act III, Sachs teaches Walther the rules of success, (using the dread yellow book) and the two become conservative, successful, utterly hollow sell-outs in dark suits.
Eva (Michaela Kunde) is a repressed, almost predatory figure. In Act II, she blossoms, re-invented through Walther's use of creative visual art. She gets a makeover and is suddenly "cool.Read more ›
(This is an all too apt assessment and says much about American Opera fans).
"In Act 1 we are in a 19th century brotherhood of sorts: Traditionally clad "meistersingers" sit around the table, reading small yellow books of German classics. At that time, Sachs, barefoot, is a slightly controversial outsider. But not nearly as controversial as the modern-dress Walther, who sprays paint on everything and everybody. Not a singer, but a painter, the point is driven through, by him assembling a puzzle of Nürnberg all in disorder compared to Beckmessers perfectly assembled Nürnberg puzzle.
In Act 2, the sullen Eva hangs around what looks like an East-German Canteen in the 1950's, where Sachs sits with his typewriter in the corner. In the only hint at shoemaking, sneakers seem to be dropping from the sky and all ends in an orgy of paint-throwing.
The real stuff begins in Act 3: Now Beckmesser is suddenly the outcast with his T-shirt "Beck in Town" and finds himself in Sach's fancy apartment, where the heads of the old German masters (Brahms etc.) dancing in the background.Read more ›
Musically, the performance fares better, without being outstanding. But the music is ably sung and it is so beautiful that one can listen with one's eyes closed.
There is some comfort in the knowledge that for once we are given a real live Bayreuth performance even if we are given little of the little ados and fanfares before the performance begins. More could have gone into attempting to create that one is really on the green hill ready to enter the holy of holies. I would have appreciated more Bayreuth flavor. And courtain calls with the loud boos for Mme. Wagner. Disgraceful.
The sound and picture on the dvd are exemplary.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great voices, but the modern setting doesn't work for this opera. Three stars may seem harsh considering how much I liked everything else, but this is the one Wagner opera that... Read morePublished 3 months ago by C. Best
What a disappointment this was. After watching the espectacular 2012 production of the Ring by the Metropolitan Opera, this production of the Meistersinger was absolutely terrible... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
A great performance. I bought it because I didn't own the piece on CD or DVD. I'm NOT sorry I did!Published 12 months ago by JOSE J GONZALEZ
Great dvd, arrived quickly, so pleased to have this as part of my opera collection. ThanksPublished 17 months ago by Robert Leonard Moran
I can only agree to the review from the person from NYC. Katharina Wagner ruins this opera. I listened to this year's performance via German radio station, and it is a joy to... Read morePublished on August 10, 2011 by L. Jorra