Information

Composer Richard Wagner

Monday, 31. July 2006
04:00 pm – 10:10 pm
Nationaltheater

Duration est. 6 hours 10 minutes

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Cast

Musikalische Leitung
Zubin Mehta
Choreographie
Marco Santi
Inszenierung
Thomas Langhoff
Bühne und Kostüme
Gottfried Pilz
Licht
Manfred Voss
Produktionsdramaturgie
Eva Walch
Chöre
Andrés Máspero

Hans Sachs
Jan-Hendrik Rootering
Veit Pogner
Matti Salminen
Kunz Vogelgesang
Kenneth Roberson
Konrad Nachtigall
Christian Rieger
Sixtus Beckmesser
Eike Wilm Schulte
Fritz Kothner
Tom Fox
Balthasar Zorn
Ulrich Reß
Ulrich Eißlinger
Hermann Sapell
Augustin Moser
Francesco Petrozzi
Hermann Ortel
Rüdiger Trebes
Hans Schwarz
Alfred Kuhn
Hans Foltz
Gerhard Auer
Walther von Stolzing
Peter Seiffert
David
Kevin Conners
Eva
Adrianne Pieczonka
Magdalena
Heike Grötzinger
Nachtwächter
Kurt Moll
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A new production of the ultimate festival opera at the Munich Nationaltheater - on the stage where it was given its world première! Wagner full of wit and humor: Stolzing, a Franconian knight wants to sing his way into the heart of Eva, the local goldsmith's daughter, but the canny Beckmesser also has an eye on the damsel. A wise cobbler keeps the threads from getting tangled. A showdown on the festival meadow. Eva gets Mr. Right. Jubilation in C-major.

 

Act I

The Day before Midsummer's Day (The Feast of St. John)

The knight Walther von Stolzing and Eva, daughter of Pogner, a goldsmith and Meistersinger, are in love. But Eva may only marry one of the Meistersingers; her father wishes to offer her as the victory prize in the singing contest at the next day's Midsummer carnival. Stolzing decides to become a Meistersinger immediately, although knowing nothing of their many strict rules. David, apprentice and member of the singing guild, explains them to him. The Meistersingers gather together and praise Pogner's plan which is intended to carry their art to new heights. But they turn down Hans Sachs's suggestion to allow the townspeople to join in choosing the victor. Stolzing asks to be accepted into the Meistersingers' guild. He must name his singing master, and sing an audition song. Beckmesser, the town clerk and himself a suitor of Eva, chalks up an endless list of faults in the knight's singing, and the Meistersingers decide he is not qualified to join them. Sachs, delighted by Stolzing's effusive song, cannot change their minds.

Act II

Midsummer's Eve

The apprentices are looking forward to the next day's carnival and make fun of David, because of his love for Magdalene, Eva's governess. Pogner has doubts about his plans; Eva waits restlessly for Stolzing. Sachs gives himself up to Stolzing's strangely beautiful love-song (Flieder-Monologue). Eva finds out about Stolzing's failure from Sachs, her trusted fatherly friend. At last Stolzing comes, and the lovers decide to flee: "Away into freedom!" But their plan is foiled. Beckmesser appears and wants to try out his contest song under Eva's window, where in fact, Magdalene is sitting, disguised in Eva's clothes. Sachs interrupts Beckmesser's serenade by cobbling and singing a loud song about his own love for Eva. In the end Beckmesser has to let Sachs hammer on the soles of the shoes every time he, Beckmesser, makes a mistake, an he makes a lot of them! David, supposing Beckmesser to be a rival, gives him a thrashing, and soon all the townspeople, disturbed by the noise, come to blows in a boisterous Midsummer's Eve free-for-all.

Act III

The Feast of St. John, Morning

David greets Hans Sachs on his nameday. Sachs, who has not slept during the night, reflects on the chaos of the previous night, and decides to help the love of Eva and Stolzing to victory in Nuremberg ("Wahn-Monolog", or "Philosophising on human follies"). Stolzing has spent the nigth in Sachs's house, and dreamt vividly. Sachs helps him to recast this dream into a love-song, with which he should court Eva at the tournament. Beckmesser finds the text, and takes it for a wooing song, written by Sachs. Surprisingly, Sachs gives him the text. Eva meets Stolzing at Sachs's house, and thanks the Meistersinger for his great but renounced love. Stolzing's new song receives a formal christening, David is quickly made a journeyman, and then they all set off for the carnival.

Later the Same Day

The townspeople and guilds are celebrating in the carnival fields. The Meistersingers gather together, and Sachs is ceremonially welcomed by the townspeople ("Wach auf", "Awake"). Then the singing contest for Eva's hand is opened. Beckmesser sings the song found at Sachs's house but which he does not comprehend, and mutilates it completely. His performance is greeted with laughter. Sachs arranges for Stolzing to present the song correctly, and all are captivated by Stolzing's passionate singing. But even as the Meistersingers wish for him to join their guild, he declines. Eva is enough for him. Sachs admonishes him, reminding that the art of singing and its custodians, the Meistersingers, should be treasured, and wins Stolzing. All thanks Hans Sachs, with great enthusiasm.

© Bavarian State Opera

Eva Walch. Richard Wagner "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg"

"Munich, Royal Court and National Theatre. Sunday, the 21st of June, 1868, non-subscription performance. For the first time: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg". These were the opening words on the program 136 years ago, and since then this opera has come down through the ages as the same smash hit it was way back then, and not just in Munich, even if many of the new productions the work has experienced habe not been met with cheers of jubilation. So much is different today.

We take our cue from Wagner's injunction: "Children! Do something new! New! and once again new!" when we approach his operas with new scenic and musical ideas and interpretations. For all of this we don't really need this justification from the creator, because Wagner's master(singer)work itself veritably cries out for an interpretation that takes the present day into account while referring back to its own time and pointing the way to the future, rethinking it and translating it into the scenic language of our own time.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is an opera about now. Nürnberg was and is Germany, or better yet: a community that concerns us all. Hans Sachs was and is the artist with ties to the bourgeoisie, or better yet: a bourgeois individual who acts with intelligence, imagination and a sense of social responsibility. This art Nürnberg (also in the sense of artificial) is in a crisis, it is stagnating, the men at the top have moved away from the people, they are unloved. The good rules and regulations they gave themselves a long time ago prevent forward motion, stimulation and renewal. Art, the art of government, has become the prerogative of a small, influential élite, the masters. One of them, Pogner, makes a generous proposal, to win new appreciation for art. The proposal of another man, Sachs, to let the people have a voice in the decision-making process, is rejected. And so there would be no renewal - despite the magnanimous prize, Eva - were it not for the arrival of yet another person, a stranger. And this stranger, Stolzing, will only be able to establish this something new, this new art in the face of huge opposition, the only way to integrate it is with struggle and uproar - and with love - and with the cunning of the great mediator Sachs - and with the consent of the people. At the decisive moment, swept along or overrun by events and emotions, the influential men at the top suspend their rules and regulations and accept the new art as an impetus to reform their imperfect democracy.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is an opera about now. It is a trade-mark opera, frequently understood and performed as a national and festival opera, and - time and again - as an opera to open opera houses. After initially describing it as a Comic Opera and a Grand Comic Opera, Wagner finally decided to drop all the subtitles and thus gave us all the more freedom while imposing all the more responsibility in the interpretation of his masterwork, the only one he himself provided with that description.

English translation by Donald Arthur

© Bavarian State Opera

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Biographies

Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 and grew up in a musical family in his native Bombay. After first studying medicine for two semesters he concentrated on music in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class at the Vienna academy.

Zubin Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize-winner at the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood. By his mid-twenties he had already conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and retains close ties with both.

Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 becoming Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1962, a post he retained until 1978. In 1969 he also became Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made Music Director of that orchestra in 1977. In 1981 he was made Music Director for life. Zubin Mehta has conducted nearly two thousand concert performances with this extraordinary ensemble on tours spanning five continents. In 1978 he became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history and, since 1985, he has been chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale in Florence.

Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1964. Since then he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and the opera houses of Montreal, Chicago and Florence as well as at the Salzburg Festival.

Zubin Mehta's list of awards and honours is extensive and includes the "Nikisch-Ring" from the Vienna Philharmonic as well as having been made, in 2001, an honorary member of the orchestra. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 1999 Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations by Lea Rabin. In April 2001 President Chirac created him "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur". In January 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed the title of "Honorary Conductor" on Zubin Mehta.

Zubin Mehta has been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra from 1998 to 2006. Quite apart from his commitments and responsibilities for the musical leadership of new productions, repertory performances and concerts associated with this position, he has also led the State Orchestra on two major European tours and the whole opera company on tours to Japan.

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