The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has released yet another of their production movies, this time a revival of Otto Schenk’s 1993 production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
The opera is the longest in the repertoire, even longer than any of Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas, and one must set aside over six hours. The epic opera is six hours including the two intervals, but then one must still add time for the adverts and trailers. It is a miracle that this opera is still performed anywhere today. I was a bit hesitant about seeing it, but I loved it from start to finish (although it could do with some trimming).
In the original production Wagner expert James Levine was the conductor and he reprised this role twenty-one years later. From a South African perspective the most interesting member of the case is our own Johan Botha (tenor) who played the role of Walther. He has a wonderful voice and was thrilling throughout. James Morris, forty-three years after his Met debut, returned as Hans Sachs, one of Wagner’s most impressive baritone roles. Eva was played by Annette Dasch. Her father, Pogner, was played by Hans-Peter Konig and Johannes Martin Kränzle made his Met debut as Beckmesser. Paul Appleby made a charming David and Karen Cargill was his sweetheart, Magdalene. There were also a host of extra musicians, dancers and then the Meistersingers/tradesmen.
The sets were impressive but it was the rich music which charmed me most. It is sometimes tender and sweet but never cloying. Wagner impresses me, a mere Wagnerian neophyte, as I learn more of his music. He is certainly a master of majestic music and magnificent chorales. I was thoroughly hooked. The prelude to Act III is magnificent music and it was splendidly performed . I wonder why it is not more often played in concert halls – perhaps it is the large orchestra requirement?
All round I was charmed and once again felt blessed to be able to see these productions at the Cinema Nouveau in Johannesburg. Keep a watch on their website to check for future Live at the Met productions.
I loved this one.