On December 13th, the Metropolitan Opera presented Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg as part of its Live in HD broadcast schedule. The production was directed by Otto Schenk with sets by Gunther Schneider-Siemssen. The performance starred Michael Volle (Hans Sachs), Johan Botha (Walther von Stolzing), Annette Dasch (Eva), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Beckmesser), Hans-Peter König (Veit Pogner), Paul Appleby (David), and Karen Cargill (Magdalene.) Artistic Director James Levine conducted the Met Opera Orchestra.
The production, now 21 years old, is still fresh and provides a great backdrop for the action. The action takes place in 16th Century Nuremberg, and that’s exactly where we are taken with the staging – which means we can forget about what the director thinks of the production, but allows the audience to concentrate on the action. And this is was a good thing.
Mr. Volle, singing his second performance during this run, was a remarkable Sachs. He was in strong voice, not over powering the role, but with a lot of emotion. He acted very well, commanding the stage as he performed.
Mr. Botha, was in strong voice, especially during the Prize song. His acting is satisfying, but with his voice who would want to worry about his acting as we were spellbound by his voice.
Miss Dasch’s Eva was a young lady in love with the new man in town.
Mr. Kränzle’s Beckmesser was not played for laughs. He he seriously trying to win the hand of Eva, and came across as having an inferiority complex. His song during the song contest brought the house down with laughter. He became more and more stressed while unsuccessfully trying to win the contest while totally mixing up the song. This run also marked Mr. Kränzle’s Met Opera debut.
Mr. Appleby’s David was very active during the production. He looked and acted like a young apprentice, yet was remorseful when necessary. His voice was superb. This run marks his first Wagner performances, and hopefully the first of many to come.
Maestro Levine’s conducting was in fine form as ever. He is still as passionate as ever and one can hear and see his total commitment to conducting wonderful music that is moving.
The sad not about this production is that there are only three more performances between now and December 23rd before the Met Opera retires this production. While we will one day see another Meistersinger from this company, I am going to miss this staging. I cannot find any fault with it, and will be missed. This is a total shame in my humble opinion.
If you get the chance to see the production, either in the house or during one of the encore performances in the cinema, you need to go and see this production.
Here the Act III Quintet from this production (although with James Morris as Sachs, as here is sharing the role with Michael Volle):