Fathom Events' "Meistersinger": Sometimes Life Sachs

The Cast of the Metropolitan Opera's "Die Meistersinger"
(photo: Beth Bergman)
Screened at Regal Cinemas in Kingston, MA, with encore screening Weds. Dec. 17th

Fathom Events’ latest HD broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera was the Richard Wagner masterpiece, “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”, the last outing before this busy Otto Schenk production is retired. It’s a work with some great music and a hero, Hans Sachs, a shoemaker (who’s cobbled together a song) with an exemplary life. The story of this noble sole lasts and lasts…for six hours. Wagner could have used editing, but some moments, such as an act three quintet, are sublime.

For such a lengthy piece , the story is relatively simple. The setting is 16th century Nuremburg. The knight Walther von Stolzing (tenor Johan Botha) has fallen in love with Eva (soprano Annette Dasch), daughter of a goldsmith. Since she is promised to whoever wins the mastersinger song contest, he joins their guild, but his song is rejected. The cobbler Hans Sachs (baritone Michael Volle) alone finds Walther’s song worthy and advocates for him. Eva agrees to elope with Walther. The Meistersinger Beckmesser (Johannes Martin Kränzle), a clerk, also loves her and comes to serenade her. Sachs interrupts this with strokes of his cobbler’s hammer arousing a crowd and preventing the elopement, as the night watchman (Matthew Rose) disperses a crowd that had gathered. The next morning, Sachs helps Walther take down words for a new song. Thinking this is Sachs’ poem, Beckmesser steals it, but later messes up his delivery of the song to the crowd’s amusement. Walther then correctly delivers the song and wins the contest. As he and Eva are united the crowd cheers for Sachs.

The singing at this performance was top-notch, beginning with Volle (the hit of this performance) and Botha (who, it must be said in these highly defined times, looks nothing like the knight Wagner envisioned). Dasch’s singing was exquisite. Also featured were Magdalene (mezzo Karen Cargill), David (tenor Paul Appleby) and Pogner (bass Hans-Peter König). The HD broadcast Hostess was Renée Fleming. Directed for Live Cinema by Matthew Diamond (with Stage Direction by Paula Suozzi) and Conducted by James Levine, it was a pleasure to hear. The Set Design by Günther Schneider-Siemssen, Costume Design by Rolf Langenfass, Lighting Design by Gil Wechsler, and Choreography by Carmen de Lavallade all added to the enjoyment of the opera, as of course did the Met Chorus under the dependably terrific Chorusmaster Donald Palumbo. Lengthy or not, it’s a work that deserves more popularity, especially thanks to the excellence of the third act. Find out for yourself at the encore presentation this coming Wednesday at a theater near you.

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