Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg


Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

Opera in three acts; First performed on 21st June, 1868 at Munich; Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 1st May, 1993

In German language with German surtitles

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Cast

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Cast

Conductor Christof Prick
Director Götz Friedrich
Stage design Peter Sykora
Costume design Kirsten Dephoff
Peter Sykora
Choir Conductor William Spaulding
Hans Sachs Albert Pesendorfer
Veit Pogner Michael Eder
Kunz Vogelsang Paul Kaufmann
Konrad Nachtigall ZhengZhong Zhou
Sixtus Beckmesser Markus Brück
Fritz Kothner Stephen Bronk
Balthasar Zorn Jörg Schörner
Ulrich Eißlinger Peter Maus
Augustin Moser Burkhard Ulrich
Hermann Ortel Andrew Harris
Hans Schwarz Jörn Schümann
Hans Foltz Marko Mimica
Walther von Stolzing Robert Dean Smith
David Thomas Blondelle
Eva Martina Welschenbach
Magdalena Jana Kurucová
A guard Tobias Kehrer
Chorus Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchestra Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
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Wealthy goldsmith Veit Pogner has promised the hand of daughter Eva to the winner of the song contest scheduled for St John’s Day. His only condition is that Eva must agree to the match. Eva herself loves the young aristocrat Walther von Stolzing. He is neither a citizen of Nuremberg nor a member of the circle of mastersingers - master tradesmen with shining reputations and a shared love of singing. To give himself any chance at all of winning Walther sings at an evening meeting of the mastersingers, hoping to be accepted into the guild. David, an apprentice to cobbler Hans Sachs, has initiated him into the masters’ art of singing and explained the rules to him. Among the mastersingers is Sixtus Beckmesser, town clerk and responsible for ensuring that the rules are observed. He, too, has his eye on Eva and is not pleased at the arrival of this new candidate. While Walther delivers his song Beckmesser has no trouble bemoaning his many infractions to the other masters and successfully convincing them that the applicant has tripped up. Hans Sachs is alone in appealing to the assembled singers not to judge the young man according to a rigid set of rules but to acknowledge his fine voice. Beckmesser, keen to impress Eva, plans to serenade her on the eve of the contest. Hans Sachs, sitting outside his house and working late on a pair of shoes, hears the clerk's song and adopts the role of examiner, marking each of Beckmesser’s many faults with a blow of his hammer. He wants to help both Eva, who has confided in him, and the young Walther von Stolzing. The scene ends in a brawl. Eva and Walther want to take advantage of the confusion to slip away, but Hans Sachs prevents them, sending Eva back to her father. The arrival of the night watchman puts an end to the chaos. Hans Sachs, alone in his workshop, muses on the meaning of life: “Madness, madness! Everywhere madness!” When Walther enters and begins to relate a wonderful dream he has had, Sachs encourages him to turn it into a master song, observing all the rules of the art. Both leave the workshop to prepare for the contest. Beckmesser, seeking counsel from the cobbler in the aftermath of the previous night, discovers the song manuscript and presumes that Sachs is also in the running for the hand of Eva. He is doubly taken aback when Sachs enters and makes him a gift of the manuscript, warning him at the same time not to try to sing the song as it is beyond his capabilities. Disregarding the advice, Beckmesser delivers the song at the contest, makes error after error in his nervousness and is laughed at. Sachs tells the audience who actually wrote the piece. Walther steps forward and at last wins over the mastersingers with his singing ability … and wins the hand of Eva. Sachs urges him to accept the title of mastersinger and, with it, a degree of responsibility for his art.

Richard Wagner’s 5-hour opera – his only work in which a happy ending awaits his characters – is at once a light-hearted love story and a profound discourse on the essence of art. In the ceremony of the mastersingers and above all the key characters, Walther von Stolzing and Hans Sachs, we are presented with the bourgeoisie’s democratic conception of the role of art, diametrically opposed to that of the National Socialists, who instrumentalised the work for their own ends. Götz Friedrich, director of the opera in 1993, underlines this idea: “For him Nuremberg is a democratic model for an art that is freeing itself from elitist strictures and increasingly opening up to people. This serves as a parable for Wagner’s utopia. That he refuses to idealise the model but rather criticises it, that he presents it to Nuremberg as a malformation to which no social system, however enlightened, is immune, this reveals how astonishingly far-sighted his political thinking was.”

Kindly supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V.

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Accompanying Programme

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Accompanying Programme

Introduction (in German language): 45 minutes before beginning; Rang-Foyer