A Splendidly Performed Meistersinger in a Brilliant New Production

GermanyGermany Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Staatskapelle Berlin, Staatsopernchor, Daniel Barenboim (conductor), Schiller Theatre, Berlin, 7.10.2015 (JMI)

Wolfgang Koch (Hans Sachs), Julia Kleiter (Eva) & Klaus Florian Vogt (Walther) in Berlin State Opera’s Die Meistersinger
Copyright: Bernd Uhlig

Hans Sachs: Wolfgang Koch
Walther von Stolzing: Klaus Florian Vogt
Sixtus Beckmesser: Markus Werba
Eva: Julia Kleiter
David: Stephan Rügamer
Magdalene: Anna Lapkovskaja
Pogner: Kwanchul Youn
Fritz Kothner: Jürgen Linn
Kunz Vogelgesang: Graham Clark
Konrad Nachtigall: Gyula Orendt
Balthasar Zorn: Siegfried Jerusalem
Ulrich Eisslinger: Reiner Goldberg
Augustin Moser: Paul O’Neill
Hermann Ortel: Arttu Kataja
Hans Schwarz: Franz Mazura
Hans Foltz: Olaf Bär
Night Watchman: Jan Martinik

New Production:
Direction: Andreas Moses
Sets: Jan Pappelbaum
Costumes: Adriana Braga Peretzki
Lighting: Olaf Freese

This new staging by Andreas Moses, as with many current productions, brings the action into modern times, and does it with care and great respect for both libretto and score. It was magnificent, fresh and attentive to detail, accomplished from the purely aesthetic point of view and with some interesting personal touches. The sets offer four different scenarios  ̶  the church and its simple benches, the Sachs and Pogner houses with neon lights, Sachs’ workplace and the festival  ̶  and leave ample space for the soloists, choristers and extras to move about. The costumes are attractive and colorful for all.

Mr. Moses is an excellent regisseur who sets an example with his attention to detail and good taste. Before the overture begins, chorus members and mastersingers take their seats on the church benches. Minutes later, Walther comes to stand next to Eva and they begin caressing, to the shock of the attendees. Act II is superb, from the fight of the youngsters (punks here) to the final scandal. Interestingly, Mr. Moses presents the relationship between Eva and Hans Sachs as somewhat ambiguous. This is a work that reconciles one to modernized productions.

The music could not disappoint with Daniel Barenboim and the terrific Berlin Staatskapelle. Mr. Barenboim’s conducting lived up to what one expects from him and was particularly bright in the final act. All opera lovers know how difficult it is to conduct the end of Act II, and Mr. Barenboim did it as a true master. After his many years at the forefront of musical direction here, one can feel the public’s love and admiration, evident every time he enters the pit. I must also praise the performance of the Staatsopernchor.

If stage and pit flew high, the voices did not fall behind. I’m referring in particular to the presence among the mastersingers of the “Magnificent Five”: Franz Mazura, Graham Clark, Reiner Goldberg, Siegfried Jerusalem and Olaf Bär. They were a real treat for the audience who cheered them with great admiration at the final bows.  

Without a doubt, Hans Sachs is a character who has more to sing than in any other opera role. The part requires superhuman qualities to tackle all the vocal demands, let alone act it well on stage. There have never been many outstanding performers, and today there’s no doubt that the scepter rests in Germany. Wolfgang Koch was a magnificent Hans Sachs. His voice is truly powerful, and he ended the opera with no signs of fatigue. He has also deepened his portrayal of the character, which is far more compelling and exciting now than what he offered five years ago.

Klaus Florian Vogt was once again Walther von Stolzing and was totally comfortable in the character. His tenor is particularly suited for Lohengrin and Walther; his rather whitish voice is less interesting in other, more heroic, parts. Needless to say, he was outstanding.

Sixtus Beckmesser was to have been sung by Johannes Martin Kränzle, who canceled due to a serious illness that I hope he can overcome. His replacement, Markus Werba, gave a marvelous vocal and stage interpretation. The only drawback is that he’s probably too young for Beckmesser.

Eva was played by Julia Kleiter, and she was always attractive and compelling on stage. She both sang with gusto and was convincing in the role.

Stephan Rügamer was quite good as David, and his stage partner, mezzo soprano Anna Lapkovskaja as Magdalene, left a very positive impression. Kwanchul Youn was almost a luxury in the character of Veit Pogner. The rest of the Meistersinger were Jürgen Linn, as a sonorous and fun Fritz Kothner, Gyula Orendt, Paul O’Neill and Arttu Kataja. Finally, Jan Martinik was a pleasing Night Watchman.

The audience showed their enthusiasm during and at the end of the performance, with 14 minutes of ovations and cheers.

Jose M. Irurzun



Leave a Comment