My Progeny, Your Prize
My “Doing Stuff In 2012” campaign began on Wednesday the 11th, with The Royal Opera (under Sir Antonio Pappano) performing “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” at Symphony Hall (and this was actually the start of that wonderful room’s twenty-first birthday celebrations, so hurrah and hooray). This was a concert version rather than staged/costume, which is a bit of a shame in some ways given that I do like a bit of staging, but it looks like theme of the year is going to be “as many operas as possible” and so I’ll take what I can get.
There is a plot, of sorts: Pogner of Nuremburg declares that his daughter Eva will marry whoever wins the Master Singers competition, and (beyond having a preferred candidate) she doesn’t seem to mind abiding by this. From this we can conclude that there’s some sort of inherited mentalism in the family. Eva hopes that the knight Walther will win and indeed he has the invaluable support of the song-writin’ wisdom-spoutin’ loud-hammerin’ cobbler Sachs, but the clear favourite is the irritating town clark and general fussbudget Beckmesser. Both love and musical stardom are to be gained in this high-stakes singathon~! It’s Wagner though, ayit, and as such loooong. We were going for just over five hours and three quarters, although that did include two intervals that were thirty-five minutes each. For some reason. I’m very much a child of my times when it comes to attention span, but I think I held up pretty well and I certainly enjoyed it. The other typical facet of “it’s Wagner though, ayit” was mercifully avoided, with Beckmesser not being made in any way stereotypically Jewish (not that I expect that this does actually happen much, nowadays).
We were due to have the vaunted Bryn Terfel amongst the singists, but he pulled out. I have gathered since then that this is apparently not uncommon, and should probably have been expected. The cast we did have were strong, although I would liked a bit more volume from them in general (from up in the cheap seats they were all melting into the orchestra at times). I particularly liked Toby Spence’s insouciant reading of David, and Wolfgang Koch deeming to emphasise the reflective aspects of Sachs. The ROH chorus made for the (collective) hero of the night, though, bringing great power and doing a fantastic job of the ‘riot’ bit at the end of the second act.
There are a couple more accounts here and here for the detail that I’m not capable of supplying, but rest assured that I enjoyed myself. There’s loads of Wagner at Symphony Hall this year, too, so it won’t be the last time.