Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

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Belle
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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by Belle » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:37 pm

I've just started getting interested in this opera and I'm wondering how this one from von Karajan stacks up? Any particular recommendations because I don't own a copy and will buy one soon. Prefer CD to a performance on DVD as I can download these from U-Tube and cast to my high quality (German!) television.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKG8ZxEOdwE

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:26 pm

You won't believe this Sue, but there are only six of Wagner's operas that really capture my interest, (includes two from the Ring) — Parisfal, Siegfried, Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Tristan und Isolde, and Der fliegende Holländer. Parsifal, however, ranks really high in my personal book. The other operas I prefer mostly excerpts sung by the best available Wagner singers (mostly the historical ones). Sorry, can't be of much help here though I have at least two copies of the other Wagner operas, but rarely do the complete operas get heard these days in favour of excerpts. I am, however very interested in Wagner's life and have read many books on the man. May I recommend one of Wagner as seen through the eyes of his daughter-in-law (his son Siegfried's English-born wife) - Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth. While it is centered on Winifred, much is revealed about Richard as well. I could not put the book down!
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:58 am

Belle wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:37 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKG8ZxEOdwE
Belle when I clicked on the URL this came up:
"This video contains content from WMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."


Anyway the old Met production of this great opera was just superb-we saw it 3 times-what a treasure! One time we had Ben Heppner and all 3 times withJames Morris-glad I saw it while it was available. Regards, Len

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:51 am

Unlike Lance, if I could have only one Wagner opera, this would be it.

The first complete "Meistersinger" I ever heard was conducted by Karajan but not this recording, it was from the 1951 Bayreuth Festival with a good if not extraordinary cast. My mother had the Dresden/Böhm Act 3 from the 1930s on 78s, but for that reason we hardly ever listened to it. The greatest "Meistersinger" I've seen, and possibly the greatest I've heard, was at the Metropolitan Opera in 2001. Like the Gorans I saw this three times. Fortunately it was televised and has been published on DVD. Here's the Act 3 quintet:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg9sKjiQ5r4

Karita Mattila (Eva), Jill Grove (Magdalene), Ben Heppner (Walther), Matthew Polenzani (David), James Morris (Sachs). Production: Otto Schenk. Conductor: James Levine. The rest of the cast included Thomas Allen (Beckmesser) and René Pape (Pogner). There are more excerpts from the telecast but unfortunately it's not online complete.

Schenk's direction, with designs by Schneider-Siemssen, was as near perfect as makes no difference, closely faithful to the opera's characters and period, lively, and moving. James Morris, though not high and dry like Theo Adam, was past his prime and sounds pretty rocky at the end; unlike the Sachses in studio recordings he had been singing for hours. Ben Heppner had been having serious vocal problems, cracking his high notes, but with help from slightly slower tempos from Levine he managed to get through unscathed. The rest of the cast were in superb voice, and all were utterly convincing in acting their roles; Thomas Allen was the funniest Beckmesser I've seen.

Another great performance luckily caught and preserved has the worst sound of all. It's the Salzburg Festival broadcast of 1937 conducted by Toscanini. This you can hear on YouTube:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkeht7klETg

Yet another, this one also recorded in live performance, is from Bayreuth 1943 and is conducted by Furtwängler. It is marred by the omission of the Act 3 quintet, which certainly was performed but for some reason snipped out of the Magnetophon tape. Incidentally, the scenery for this production was by the young Wieland Wagner, entirely traditional and not at all like his two postwar Bayreuth productions.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAokG9BrvPo

Of modern studio recordings I haven't heard any whose conducting and cast are optimal. I used to favor the EMI recording conducted by Rudolf Kempe and with some excellent singing - Hermann Prey as the night watchman! - but Ferdinand Frantz as Sachs is merely hearty and I'm tired of him. When I want to hear "Die Meistersinger" it's always in one of these live recordings.
Last edited by John F on Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:11 am

John F wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:51 am
Like the Gorans I saw this three times. Fortunately it was televised and has been published on DVD.
I got it on cassette from the PBS Great Performances. I was there when Heppner's voice cracked-he had been doing so well and then right there in the Prize Song it happened-so sad. Regards, Len

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by Belle » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:41 am

Thanks to all three of you for your expert commentary on the various productions and recordings and your experiences with them!! How I envy you having all that at your fingertips in NYC!! JohnF I'll listen to all those links you've provided and it seems one has to experience the production to get the full force of the opera.

And thanks for the tip, Lance, about the book!! My husband read Walker's trilogy on Liszt and, of course, Wagner is heavily featured in the last one.

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by RebLem » Sun Jun 03, 2018 2:32 am

I need to go get myself some more Wagner oper, er, beg your pardon, MUSIC DRAMAS. I got interested enough to take inventory, and found I don't have enough. I have the Kempe Lohengrin, the Furtwangler Tristan, two Tannhausers--Konwitschny (Dresden version), and Solti (Paris version). Also have the Solti Der Fliegende Hollander, the Leinsdorf Die Walkure, and three complete RING cycles--Keilberth 1955, Solti, and Janowski. No Die Meistersinger. I do think I have an early Karajan version on Angel LPs (that was the label on which EMI marketed their recordings in the US, in olden times, the 1950's) someplace, but no CD version. My recollection is that that version is very good, but I don't know about any that came later.
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:52 am

If you got that "Meistersinger" recording in the 1950s, and it was conducted by Karajan, that would have been the 1951 Bayreuth performance. It was first issued by Columbia Records, then reissued in 1968 on EMI's Seraphim label. Karajan's other recording, the one Belle has been listening to, was published on Angel in 1971. (Oddly, when Karajan was director of the Vienna State Opera, he conducted only one performance of "Die Meistersinger"; when a new production was staged in 1961 it was conducted at the premiere and most later performances by the routinier Heinz Wallberg.)

The earlier Karajan recording is the one I learned the opera from, and his conducting is fine, but I've heard much better in every major role except maybe the boyish Gerhard Unger as David. (I saw him in that role and others in Stuttgart.) If you want to look further, I really do recommend the DVD of the Metropolitan Opera performance, available from amazon for $25 - a great bargain!
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by jserraglio » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:37 am

For me Jochum is plenty good enough as a well-recorded, played and sung intro to this masterwork, plus it's very inexpensive on DG Originals. I have it on LP and the original CD issue and it sounds just fine.

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If I were still investing in expensive full-price CD sets, I might get Kubelik with the Bavarian RSO (1967), reissued not too long ago on the Arts label, which sounds GREAT even in YouTube's compressed sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbCPcVOXjXw


I need good sound in this opera, so I'll leave Toscanini and Furtwangler to the antiquarians. But if you can tolerate less than ideal sound you might wanna see if YouTube has Reiner with the Met (c. 1953) or the VSOO (c.1955). Or one of the two conducted by Kempe.

I heard this opera live at the Met with Sixten Ehrling conducting and it blew me away. I wasn't much into the compleat Wagner back then (too many rock acts beckoned), but this one converted me. The matinee performance from that run was broadcast and I have it.

ImageWagner_Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg_Ehrling-Met 1976-INSERT by jserraglio, on Flickr

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:17 am

With this opera, for me, nothing less than a great performance will do, and the Met/Levine is certainly that. Jochum's studio recording is not, mainly because the crucial role of Hans Sachs is miscast. The role calls for a bass-baritone and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is a tenor-baritone. While he makes an honorable effort as Hans Sachs, it's not just his voice but his characterization that are quite wrong. Thomas Stewart's voice is rather light for the role but at least it's not wrong; I haven't heard his recordings and can say nothing about them.

The lack of a fully successful studio recording is underlined by Kenneth Furie's recommendation, in "The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera," of the live performance that reopened Munich's National Theater in 1963, though he says of its Sachs "The best that can be said of Otto Wiener, with his colorless, slow-wobble-afflicted cranky baritone, is that he doesn't completely stop the show when he sings." He has no comment at all on Joseph Keilberth's conducting, and neither do I.

The ideal Sachs would have been Hans Hotter, but he sang the role seldom and gave it up early. It's best preserved in a 1949 Bavarian State Opera performance conducted by Jochum, otherwise cast with passable members of the company's ensemble. It's been uploaded complete to YouTube. The other recording with Hotter, Bayreuth 1956 conducted by Cluytens and with a strong cast - Fischer-Dieskau as Kothner! Hotter was at the end of a vocal crisis with a slight tremolo that got worse year by year; he sang only 4 of the 8 performances and afterwards sang Pogner instead of Sachs. This too is complete on YouTube. You pays your money - no, actually, it doesn't cost a nickel to hear either or both of them.
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by jserraglio » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:37 am

Sticking with Karajan/DSKO, Solti I, Varviso and good ole Jochum on LP and CD. I have Levine-led perfs in several different broadcast versions.

As Barack said of Hillary, she's likable enough. So too with the DG Jochum. For me nothing less than fine sound will cut it in this work, the Levine does not appear to be available on CD, and audio-only is, after all, what was requested here.

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by maestrob » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:11 am

I remember hearing the Levine on radio, and have it on DVD somewhere, but truthfully this opera is a long listen. Like JohnF, I recommend it. Watching it on DVD adds to my pleasure, because it has subtitles, and my eyes refuse to focus on the ridiculously small print in CD libretti!

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by barney » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:38 pm

Of the great Wagner operas, Die Meistersinger is by far the one I know least well. I suspect that is because I have only seen it on stage once, and that way back in 1994 when I didn't esteem him as I do now. I have six complete recordings, but I don't remember when I last listened to one - it goes six hours or so. Mind you, that doesn't put me of Gotterdammerung - I just listen one act at a time.
But I am going to get to know it over the next couple of months because Opera Australia is doing it in Melbourne in November, and I already have tickets to two of the performances. A friend, coming from Auckland, is going to all six!
Sue, you should come down to Melbourne for a performance. It is conducted by Pietari Inkanen, who did a tremendous job with the Melbourne Ring, and has Natalie Arroyan as well as Stefan Vincke, one of the world's leading Siegfrieds right now.

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by barney » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:45 pm

The six versions I mentioned:
Jochum, discussed above
Solti from 1976
Varviso's Bayreuth performance from 1974
And then three interesting ones that I wonder if any of you know and can tell me about:
Kempe, Keilberth and Knappertsbusch. Perhaps I should start with the Keilberth (1963) as it has Hans Hotter: Otto Wiener bass, Hans Hotter bass, Claire Watson sop, Jess Thomas ten, Friedrich Lenz ten, David Thaw ten, Carl Hoppe bass, Benno Kusche bar.
Knappertsbusch, from 1952, has a strong cast: Gunther Treptow ten, Hilde Gueden sop, Paul Schoffler bass, Otto Edelmann bass, Hugo Meyer-Wolfing ten, Wilhelm Felden bass, Karl Donch bar, Alfred Poell bar, Anton Dermota ten, Else Schurhoff mezzo
Kempe, the version I got to know it with, to the extent I do, is also a fine cast: Rudolf Schock ten, Elisabeth Brummer sop, Ferdinand Frantz, Gottlob Frick bass, Horst Wilhelm ten, Water Stoll bass, Benno Kusche bar, Gustav Neidlinger bass, Manfred Schmidt ten, Leopold Clamten, Herold Krauss ten, Robert Koffmane bass, Anton Metternich bass, Hans Pick bass, Gerhard Unger ten, Marga Hoffgen sop.
I must have been keener when cataloguing in those days, because I have included far more of the very long cast for Kempe.

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by Belle » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:04 pm

barney wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:38 pm
Of the great Wagner operas, Die Meistersinger is by far the one I know least well. I suspect that is because I have only seen it on stage once, and that way back in 1994 when I didn't esteem him as I do now. I have six complete recordings, but I don't remember when I last listened to one - it goes six hours or so. Mind you, that doesn't put me of Gotterdammerung - I just listen one act at a time.
But I am going to get to know it over the next couple of months because Opera Australia is doing it in Melbourne in November, and I already have tickets to two of the performances. A friend, coming from Auckland, is going to all six!
Sue, you should come down to Melbourne for a performance. It is conducted by Pietari Inkanen, who did a tremendous job with the Melbourne Ring, and has Natalie Arroyan as well as Stefan Vincke, one of the world's leading Siegfrieds right now.
It sounds like a distinct possibility. I'll contact a couple of my friends here to see if they're going down for it. I remember they both went to The Ring a couple of years back; perhaps it's the one you've referred to with Inkanen. My husband wouldn't sit through it and I wouldn't ask him to!! But we've been wanting to get down to Melbourne as it's now been several years since the last trip. Thanks for the heads up on this! :D

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:40 pm

barney wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:45 pm
The six versions I mentioned:
Jochum, discussed above
Solti from 1976
Varviso's Bayreuth performance from 1974
And then three interesting ones that I wonder if any of you know and can tell me about: Kempe, Keilberth and Knappertsbusch.

Perhaps I should start with the Keilberth (1963) as it has Hans Hotter: Otto Wiener bass, Hans Hotter bass, Claire Watson sop, Jess Thomas ten, Friedrich Lenz ten, David Thaw ten, Carl Hoppe bass, Benno Kusche bar.
Knappertsbusch, from 1952, has a strong cast: Gunther Treptow ten, Hilde Gueden sop, Paul Schoffler bass, Otto Edelmann bass, Hugo Meyer-Wolfing ten, Wilhelm Felden bass, Karl Donch bar, Alfred Poell bar, Anton Dermota ten, Else Schurhoff mezzo
Kempe, the version I got to know it with, to the extent I do, is also a fine cast: Rudolf Schock ten, Elisabeth Brummer sop, Ferdinand Frantz, Gottlob Frick bass, Horst Wilhelm ten, Water Stoll bass, Benno Kusche bar, Gustav Neidlinger bass, Manfred Schmidt ten, Leopold Clamten, Herold Krauss ten, Robert Koffmane bass, Anton Metternich bass, Hans Pick bass, Gerhard Unger ten, Marga Hoffgen sop.
About the Keilberth I posted earlier today:
The lack of a fully successful studio recording is underlined by Kenneth Furie's recommendation, in "The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera," of the live performance that reopened Munich's National Theater in 1963, though he says of its Sachs "The best that can be said of Otto Wiener, with his colorless, slow-wobble-afflicted cranky baritone, is that he doesn't completely stop the show when he sings." He has no comment at all on Joseph Keilberth's conducting, and neither do I.
Kempe's EMI recording is excellent except that for me, the prosaic Sachs of Ferdinand Frantz just isn't good enough. Knappertsbusch's 1950-51 studio recording for Decca has a fine Sachs in Paul Schöffler and except for Günther Treptow, the rest of the cast is good; my main reservation is that Kna isn't lively enough for me in the many livelier parts of the opera. It's not just about tempos, he was not at his best in the recording studio. He conducts a 1952 Bayreuth performance with much the same cast as Karajan's in 1951 except for Lisa Della Casa as Eva, but I haven't heard it.

There is a singer today who could be the Sachs of our dreams: René Pape. He sang the Fliedermonolog in a 2008 Wagner concert by the NDR Symphony Orchestra (yes, that's Alan Gilbert conducting, superbly):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkDQf5i5Djk

But Pape has said he's not going to sing the Wagner Heldenbariton roles, Sachs and Wotan and the rest. He's the superb Pogner in the Met performance I've recommended, conducted by James Levine.
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Belle
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by Belle » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:02 pm

What do you think of Bryn Terfel singing this aria: Thielemann conducting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOOSBsACimU

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:08 am

Ah yes, Bryn Terfel, who canceled his role debut at the last minute leaving Opera Australia's new production of "Meistersinger" high and dry. The word was that he was so busy singing concerts, which are more remunerative than opera, that he hadn't time to learn that long and taxing role. Finally sang his first Sachs with Welsh National Opera in 2010.

Terfel has the right kind of voice for Wagner's Heldenbariton parts, and has sung Wotan at the Met. But for me that was all on the surface, and this sample of his Sachs doesn't make me want to hear the rest of it, as I do when listening to Pape. But as it happens, I can hear the rest of it - the Welsh National Opera production is on YouTube in a concert performance - and Terfel does much better, also the crucial scene with Eva goes well. If the Met revives its "Meistersinger" no doubt Terfel will sing Sachs, and I'll welcome that.
Last edited by John F on Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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barney
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by barney » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:40 am

Thanks John for such a complete description of the various versions. By November I will know them all much better myself. Clearly, they are all flawed, but in different ways.

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by THEHORN » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:32 pm

John, the Keilberth recording from the Bavarian State opera is from a live performance , although I hear that parts of it were possibly taken from the dress rehearsal .

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:19 am

That's what I said and repeated:
John F wrote:The lack of a fully successful studio recording is underlined by Kenneth Furie's recommendation, in "The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera," of the live performance that reopened Munich's National Theater in 1963, though he says of its Sachs "The best that can be said of Otto Wiener, with his colorless, slow-wobble-afflicted cranky baritone, is that he doesn't completely stop the show when he sings."
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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by barney » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:21 pm

John F wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:19 am
That's what I said and repeated:
John F wrote:The lack of a fully successful studio recording is underlined by Kenneth Furie's recommendation, in "The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera," of the live performance that reopened Munich's National Theater in 1963, though he says of its Sachs "The best that can be said of Otto Wiener, with his colorless, slow-wobble-afflicted cranky baritone, is that he doesn't completely stop the show when he sings."
You did say it twice. But it seems an odd recommendation (by Furie) if the Sachs is so inferior - it's the central role.

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Re: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Post by John F » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:13 pm

Well, I can't quote the whole review here, let alone Furie's reviews of all the other complete "Meistersinger" recordings of the time. Since none are wholly satisfactory to him, he chose what for him was the least unsatisfactory one.

I heard far too much of Otto Wiener during my time in Germany, which was just after the 1963 Munich performance. The Germans seemed to like him, though he seldom sang outside Germany and Austria; a few Met appearances as Sachs in 1962 were reviewed by Irving Kolodin as "rather negligible," and he never returned. His voice had the range and size for the Heldenbariton roles but the way he used it was pretty crude, not vinegar but certainly vin ordinaire.

"Die Meistersinger" is apparently hard to bring off in the recording studio - the complex crowd scenes in all three acts and the many conversational exchanges may need the atmosphere, continuity, and not least the thorough rehearsal and repeated performances of a run in the theatre.
John Francis

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