Holten's Meistersinger

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lennygoran
Posts: 12046
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Holten's Meistersinger

Post by lennygoran » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:27 am

Sure glad I wasn't at this! I wouldn't even go to it HD style! Regards, Len :shock: :x


Opera: Die Meistersinger at Covent Garden

I’ve rarely seen such gloriously affirmative music so crassly undermined — a very mixed night


The best thing about this show — indeed the best thing I’ve experienced in a theatre all season — is Antonio Pappano’s superlative conducting and his orchestra’s stunning playing of Wagner’s epic score. The Royal Opera should rename the opera “Die Meisterinstrumentalisten”, except it might not fit on posters. This is a musical interpretation of exemplary fluidity and pace, stirring in the right places (abetted by a rampant chorus), but also precise, subtle and virtuosic. After five hours and some, I wanted to hear it all again. Possibly, however, with my eyes closed.

Where to start with Kasper Holten’s modern-dress staging, his swansong as Covent Garden’s director of opera? The first error is surely to use a single set for the whole show. Mia Stensgaard’s hideously overbearing “gentlemen’s club” looks more like the innards of a giant pipe organ with a revolving tumble dryer in the middle. It may pass muster for Act I’s masonic rituals, but there is nothing to suggest Act II’s cobbler’s workshop or the streets outside, making a nonsense of Sachs’s hymn to Nuremberg at night. Instead the set is slowly rotated to reveal — guess what? — the backstage of an opera house, with technicians, machinery and even a working water cooler.

Presumably this banal revelation of “how opera works” is an attempt to mirror Sachs’s revelation to Walther of how songwriting works, but it fatally robs the show of any sense of being rooted in a real community in a real world. And that feeling of an opera insider showing off for other opera insiders is reinforced by the graffiti that Walther scrawls on a wall — “Kinder, schafft Neues” (“Children, create something new”, which only opera insiders will recognise as a Wagner quotation) and, more disastrously, by Holten’s attention-seeking decision to trash Wagner’s ending by having Eva rush off in tears, apparently horrified by Sachs’s patriotic rhetoric. I’ve rarely seen such gloriously affirmative music so crassly undermined, even at Covent Garden.

There are good performances. Bryn Terfel’s Sachs starts diffidently, as if trying to work out where his house has gone, but is majestic in Act III. Gwyn Hughes Jones’s Walther, though perpetually surly, sings with admirable directness — the prize-song growing in ardour with each repeat.

Johannes Kränzle’s Beckmesser is an irresistibly funny study in fidgety mediocrity, and Allan Clayton is a personable David. Yet I found it hard to warm to Rachel Willis-Sorensen’s histrionic Eva, whose chemistry with either Sachs or Walther is hard to fathom, and the Mastersingers are boringly characterised. A very mixed night.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times ... -900hrdgg6

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