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Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg / Heppner, Mattila, Morris, Pape, Allen, Polenzani, Levine, Metropolitan Opera
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Ben Heppner, Karita Mattila, Renee Pape, and James Morris star in this Metropolitan Opera production of the Wagner opera conducted by James Levine. Booklet includes cast list, synopsis, and tracking information. DVD features include 5.1 Surround Sound,
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This program is full screen, and comes out correctly proportioned on my widescreen TV. The image is sharp and clear and a delight to watch. The Met staging is beautiful. Nothing modern, not brought up to date as some other productions I have seen. They're on YouTube, and so is this, and after seeing that not all recordings of this opera got the PBS treatment, I had to have it. When the MET does a traditional production you can count on them to do a great job.
I've read other reviews of this and other operas I own, and I guess that I love Wagner's operas so much that I don't get overly critical about the singers. Face it, if they're singing at the Met, they can sing. Your only going to get perfection with a studio recording, and I still enjoy the Decca Solti Ring cycle, on CD or reel to reel tape. The Bayreuth production of Mastersinger is good, and it is traditional production too, but the Met's larger stage allows this production to shine. The DTS 5.1 audio is to die for.
I'm so glad I finally bought it. I'll have to set aside 292 minutes again to sit down and closely watch and enjoy this "great performance" again.
Forget that you read that the treatment of Beckmesser is viewed by some as anti-Semetic. Forget that Adolf Hitler allegedly liked it. Forget any nit-picking reviews. In my opinion, this production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is a must-have. Morris' rendition of Hans Sachs is something to behold. I wish my city and state and nation had someone of his stature to respect. Mattila's voice and her interpretation of Eva is magnificent.
The perspective of a video is so much different from that of live theater. I cannot sit in the first balcony with 10x50 binoculars to see every whisker and line in the faces and every nuance of expression. The video, with many close-ups, brings that to me. When you can see every movement of the face and eyes, the ability of the principals to act, not just sing, is magnified many times. I have to give Morris and especially Mattila the highest scores for their acting as well as their singing prowess.
My two years of German was over 40 years ago, so I had to have subtitles. It was slightly disappointing that there was action on the stage that was not reflected in the English subtitles. Next time, I'll watch it with German subtitles and hopefully see what I missed.
Be prepared to devote half a day to watching this performance. The production runs just a few minutes short of five hours with no breaks. I believe that if you enjoy good music, good singing, and happy endings, you will not be disappointed. Feel free applaud with the house audience at the final curtain calls.
The central figure, however, is absolutely magisterial: Morris looks, acts, and sings exactly as one dreams Sachs might. He still has all the voice to command, and it is clearly the best heldenbariton since Hotter, his teacher in Wagnerian roles, and in fact I find it a bigger, warmer and more moving voice, qua voice, than his predecessor's. His interpretation is deeply moving.
Levine conducts a glowing performance--you know it's going to be that way just from watching the sheer joy he derives from leading the orchestra through the Act one prelude.
The camera work is unexceptionable, and I have very glad to have these images of a solid, traditonal staging--no Eurotrash here.
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