lunes, 13 de agosto de 2018

Video review: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in the 2017 Bayreuth Festival.

After the adventure of watching this year production of Lohengrin, I decided to continue on watching the most recent productions at Bayreuth. Last year, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was premiered in the 2017 Festival edition.

For the first time in 55 years (Rudolf Hartmann did it in 1951 and 1952), a non-Wagner family member directed this work for stage in Bayreuth. And the election couldn't be more adequate: the Australian Barrie Kosky, director of Komische Oper Berlin.

As a Jewish man, Kosky saw the necessity to treat the antisemitism allegdly atributed to this work and to Wagner and his wife Cosima. It is a brave idea, regarding the fact that Bayreuth had such a signifcance for Third Reich and was  a favorite opera for the nazis. This will be reflected on the countless humilliations Beckmesser will receive from all people. In addition, he also saw and worked the similarities between Wagner and Hans Sachs. That is why he chose to set the action on Wagner's era and to transform the following characters:

Hans Sachs into Richard Wagner
Veit Pogner into Franz Liszt
Sixtus Beckmesser into Hermann Levi, the conductor of Parsifal in the 1882 festival
Eva into Cosima Wagner

Walter von Stolzing and David appear as personifications of Wagner. The curtain opens as Prelude begins, and First Act shows a reconstruction of Wahnfried, where we attend a  Wagner family meeting. The rest of the characters appear from the piano. The Mastersingers are dressed like in the 16th Century. At the end of the first act, Wahnfried disappears as leaving visible the 1946 Nuremberg Trial Court. In the second act it will appear with its floor covered with grass, and excepting Sachs all characters appear in classic costumes. The fight at the Act 2 finale shows Beckmesser hit by some people and then put a big mask of a Jew based in the infamous characterization of Jewish people in Nazi publications like the notorious newspaper  Der Stürmer. At the same time a big globe of the same horrible mask invades the scene, and as it is being deflated, the Star of David is seen as the curtain rises. Act 3 shows the hall prepared for judgement, the people of Nuremberg amusing in the seats, applauding all Masters as they were entering except Beckmesser, who is received with a disrespectful silence. Kosky puts Wagner in the same court that were judged the fanatics who made him a stigmatized musician. At the end, Sachs-Wagner is alone and suddenly appears from behind the Court a chorus and an orchestra which are being conducted by this Sachs as the opera ends.

Philippe Jordan did an accomplished work with the orchestra, managing slow tempi but agile when required, like at the end of Act 2. He did splendid versions of the overtures and his conducting transmitted the deep humanism of the drama. The chorus was splendid, as usual.

Michael Volle was a well acted Sachs, but his singing not always reached the same level, being better in Act 3 than in Act 2. Johannes Martin Kränzle acted and sang well his Beckmesser, portraying him as a humble and fragile man. Klaus Florian Vogt has a beautiful voice for his Walter. Günther Groissböck sang a nice Pogner and very well acted. Anne Schwanewilms sang an Eva with some moments of beauty but the singer is past her prime and her Eva was plain. As a result, she was largely booed at the end; which is a pity regarding the former beauty of her voice. The supporting characters were excellent: Daniel Behle sung and acted a magnificent David, and Wiebke Lehmkuhl stunned with her powerful contralto voice. Georg Zeppenfeld was a luxury as the Night watchman at the finale of Act 2.

An accomplished production, which probably will become a reference in this opera in Bayreuth Festival and nice to see, even in video.

My reviews are not professional and express only my opinions. As a non english native speaker I apologise for any mistake.
Most of the photographs are from the press and belong to its authors. My use of them is only cultural.

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