Very enjoyable, if more on a musical front than a visual one
I have said many times that Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg is one of my Wagner operas and one of my favourites generally as well. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and the music is magnificent. This production is not my favourite one of the opera, I do prefer the 1984 Bernd Weikl and 2001 Met productions but it is still miles above the irritating 2008 Katharina Wagner-directed Bayreuth production. However it is still very enjoyable. I didn't care overall for the rather sparse and abstract sets, I never really got the sense that I was witnessing 16th century Nurnberg. However, there were some staging aspects that I did like, such as the energetic St Crispins Day guild song and the idea to have stacks of books to emphasise Hans Sachs' interest in poetry. The orchestral playing shimmers with lush, beautiful playing and Franz Welser-Most takes thing at a brisk, sometimes too fast, pace, making sure things are never dull. The chorus are well-balanced and sing with attention to tuning and musicality, they are not quite angry enough at the end of Act 2 but if anything I blame the sets and directing for that, and the ballet dancers are exceptional, dancing with great skill and energy. The singing I cannot really fault. Jose Van Dam is a completely natural Hans Sachs, dramatically wise and completive and vocally resonant whether in ensembles or in his monologues. Peter Seiffert is wonderful as Walther, singing the Prize Song especially with sweetness and passion as well as an endearing nobility. As Eva, Petra-Maria Schnitzer is radiant especially in the Quintet, which I consider the single most beautiful piece Wagner wrote, far better than her Valencia Sieglinde anyhow. Michael Volle is an absolutely splendid Beckmesser, fussy, bitter and pedantic but he earns our sympathy at the end of Act 3. Matti Salminen is a noble Pogner with a sonorous, if occasionally a little hoarse, voice that makes you wish Pogner had more to sing. Bridgette Pinter's Magdalene is knowing and vocally firm if not always commanding. Overall, this was a very enjoyable Meistersinger, not my first choice, but the performances and musical values are so good I consider it a worthy one. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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