Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
It's the ultimate talent show: in Wagner's great opera, reinterpreting the rules means that the right man wins
Just as some of the best films are about showbusiness, so some of the best operas are about music-making itself. And towering above them all is Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner’s masterpiece about master singers, which features the ultimate singing contest.
Walther is the fine-voiced young suitor of Eva, but she is pledged to marry the winner of the master singers’ competition. Despite his great talent, his chances of reaching the prize are thwarted when he does not pass the first trial.
But when the older Hans Sachs helps Walther to write a promising new song that bends the rigid rules of the ages-old contest, his prospects improve. As long as the stick-in-the-muds will accept his new-fangled ways do not erase the past, but honour it.
His Morgenlich leuchtend in rosigem Schein can be interpreted as a hymn to national culture, patriotic without being xenophobic.
Richard Jones’s superb production of The Mastersingers at English National Opera in 2015 celebrated the great artistic legacy of Wagner’s native Germany as a whole. In this, his farewell production for the Royal Opera House, Kasper Holten, its director of opera for five years, has a hard act to follow. And he will be directing the opera against a backdrop of contemporary concerns about nationalism and national identity, making this Meistersinger definitely one to watch.
Holten has said that he finds parallels between the hierarchical, tradition-bound ways of the Meistersingers and the historical ritual and pageantry still evident in today’s London.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, is as much about adapting to a changing world, and the grace of old age to give way to youth, as it is about the transformative power of music. But on the way, glorious melodies, amusing characterisation (the comedy often at the expense of puffed-up males) and lush orchestration guarantee hours of pleasure.
Bryn Terfel is to sing the role of the all-important, enlightened Sachs, with Gwynn Hughes Jones as Walther and Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Eva. Designs are by Mia Stensgaard and Anja Vang Kragh, and ROH music director Sir Anthony Pappano conducts.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is sung in German with English surtitles.
Booking for the general public opens at 9am on 24 Jan 2017. Click here for more details and for links to priority booking schemes.
|What||Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Royal Opera House|
Royal Opera House
Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
11 Mar 2017 – 31 Mar 2017, times vary; 7 performances, running time 5hr 30min
|Price||£13 - £270|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|