Opera in three acts

Composer Richard Wagner · Libretto by the composer
In German with German and English surtitles | New Production

Munich Opera Festival
Wednesday, 31. July 2019
04:00 pm – 09:40 pm

Duration est. 5 hours 40 minutes · 1. Aufzug (est. 04:00 pm - 05:20 pm ) · Interval (est. 05:20 pm - 06:05 pm ) · 2. Aufzug (est. 06:05 pm - 07:00 pm ) · Interval (est. 07:00 pm - 07:40 pm ) · 3. Aufzug (est. 07:40 pm - 09:35 pm )

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Premiere at 16. May 2016

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Dates & Tickets

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Musikalische Leitung
Kirill Petrenko
David Bösch
Patrick Bannwart
Meentje Nielsen
Falko Herold
Michael Bauer
Rainer Karlitschek
Sören Eckhoff

Hans Sachs
Wolfgang Koch
Veit Pogner
Christof Fischesser
Kunz Vogelgesang
Kevin Conners
Konrad Nachtigall
Christian Rieger
Sixtus Beckmesser
Martin Gantner
Fritz Kothner
Michael Kupfer-Radecky
Balthasar Zorn
Ulrich Reß
Ulrich Eißlinger
Dean Power
Augustin Moser
Thorsten Scharnke
Hermann Ortel
Levente Páll
Hans Schwarz
Peter Lobert
Hans Foltz
Kristof Klorek
Walther von Stolzing
Jonas Kaufmann
Allan Clayton
Sara Jakubiak
Okka von der Damerau
Milan Siljanov
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

Cast for all dates

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Even during his lifetime in the 16th century he was already famous and highly regarded as a reformatory lyricist and playwright. And at least by the time Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg premiered, he had become synonymous with a certain kind of urban lifestyle: Hans Sachs is portrayed by Wagner as an ambassador for a traditional institution that, though positively viewed, is in need of reform. 

In his encounter with the nobleman Walter von Stolzing, he accomplishes his actual masterpiece, in that he is able to mould Walter's progressive, subjectivistic art into something that can be understood and accepted by all. Walter is not in the least bit interested in the tradition of the masters and is committed solely to serving his own love interests. Art for everyone! Away with the elite! No l'art pour l'art! And yet Sachs's endeavours are dangerous: His message, "Do not deride the masters!" always threatens to leave a bitter aftertaste: "Was deutsch und echt wüßt' keiner mehr, lebt's nicht in deutscher Meister Ehr'." (None would know what's German and true, were it not to survive through the honour of German masters) - that would be narrow-minded smugness, hollow populism and nationalism.

With all these questions, truly a work for Munich - which it has been ever since its world premiere here.


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Act One

Eva, the daughter of Veit Pogner, a rich goldsmith, has fallen in love with the young knight Walther von Stolzing. The latter initially came to Nuremberg to do business with her father and has now also fallen deeply in love with her. At the moment, however, there seems to be no chance of them marrying: in order to be accepted into society in the town, Stolzing would have to becomea master in a guild. Without further ado he has therefore decided to join the mastersingers, the guild richest in tradition. However David, Hans Sachs' apprentice, points out to him just how complicated it is to understand and apply all the rules of composition of a mastersong.
There is a conflict smouldering within the guild of the mastersingers,which has long since passed its heyday: Sachs has been pleading for sometime for the decision about the winner of the annual competition to rest with the people at the festival. This would promote the acceptance of the guild. The majority of the masters, however, led by Fritz Kothner and Sixtus Beckmesser, fear that the strict rules would then be of little value and oppose Sachs' suggestion.
Pogner suggests another way in which to make the mastersingers more popular: he has decided that his only daughter, Eva, will marry the winner ofthis year's competition. Beckmesser, the town clerk, already sees himself as the winner - thinking that he will be the only participant in the competition. Stolzing, however, now becomes a further candidate. In order to be allowed to marry Eva, he wants to audition to become a member of the guild by performinga song. It is, however, up to Beckmesser, the mastersingers' marker,to judge Stolzing's song and thus decide whether he should be allowed to join the guild. Before the knight has even finished singing, Beckmesser, obviously biassed, has convinced the other mastersingers that Stolzing's song has been faulty. Stolzing's singing is completely lost against the background of the commotion caused by Beckmesser's strict insistence on abiding by the rules. Only Hans Sachs, the cobbler, supports Stolzing's song. He points out that Stolzing has sung in accordance with new rules, entirely his own, but that his song was by no means faulty. Stolzing is nevertheless rejected.

Act Two

In the evening, Hans Sachs reflects on the song Stolzing sang - he does not knowof any rules in accordance with which he could have assessed the song. He doesnot only recognise what is new in Stolzing's singing but also the love which exists between him and Eva. Sachs himself feels he is too old to marry Eva.
Pogner is also brooding over the muddled situation. Although he would have nothing against the knight as a son-in-law, he cannot grant his daughter her wish. He is bound by his own promise in connection with the competition. He hopes that Sachs will come up with a way out of the dilemma. Eva and Stolzing, meanwhile, are considering how they can make a future together at all possible.
Supposedly their only chance is to elope.
Sixtus Beckmesser still has hopes of marrying into the goldsmith's family.He comes to Eva's window to sing to her the song he will be performing at the competition. But the woman he thinks is young Eva is in fact Eva's companion Magdalene in disguise. Whilst the town clerk falls into raptures to the accompaniment of his lute, his song is interrupted by Hans Sachs at his cobbling. In return for Beckmesser's behaviour towards Stolzing at the audition, Sachs now comments on Beckmesser's verses by beating the soles of the shoes with a hammer. The sound of the lute, the singing and the beating of the hammer bring people on to the scene who begin to quarrel. It soon turns into a general melée in which Hans Sachs is able to prevent Eva and Stolzing from eloping and Beckmesser is beaten by the apprentice David, Magdalene's suitor. Only when the nightwatchman's call is heard is order restored to the town.

Act Three

Next morning, Sachs is reflecting on the 'madness' of the world. During the night he has rescued Stolzing, of whose talent he is convinced, from the fightingand taken him home. When Stolzing tells him about his dream, Sachs encourages him to use it to create a mastersong which will stand firm against the rules of the mastersingers. After some initial hesitation, Stolzing begins to sing and, as if by itself, the right form emerges. Sachs is delighted and writes the notes down immediately, seeing straight away that the song is in accordance with the rules.
Beckmesser, however, coming to complain to the cobbler about hisshoes, discovers the pages in Sachs' handwriting and accuses Sachs of being his rival for Eva's hand. Sachs assures him that this is not the case and lets Beckmesser have the song. The marker leaves, delighted, as he thinks that he can no longer lose with a song by Hans Sachs.
Eva also comes to see the cobbler and asks him for advice. Although Sachs has feelings for her he renounces them in favour of the love that binds Eva and Stolzing. When the knight also comes in and performs yet another verse of his mastersong, Sachs organizes a symbolic christening of it. In a peaceful moment Sachs, Eva, Stolzing, David, who has quickly been named a journeyman, and his future bride Magdalene give voice to their happiness in song.
Meanwhile the people have gathered for the competition on St John's Day. Beckmesser starts to sing the song Sachs gave him but is unable to read Sachs' handwriting. He mangles the words, alters the meaning, imposes his own melody on the song and thus becomes a figure of fun for everyone. He throws the paper down angrily and explains that Sachs is the composer ofthe song. The cobbler rejects the reproach and calls for Walther von Stolzing, who will show by singing it correctly that he is the composer of the song. Stolzing's performance wins the approval of both the people and the mastersingers. The latter solemnly announce that the knight has been accepted as a member of the guild, but he wants to decline the offer. Sachs urges the young poet not to forget the importance of tradition and to respect the experience of the masters. The scene ends with all the people and the mastersingers acclaiming Hans Sachs.

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Kirill Petrenko was born in Omsk in 1972 where he studied piano at the College of Music. At the age of eleven he gave his first public performance as a pianist with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 his family (his father a violinist and his mother a musicologist) relocated to Vorarlberg where his father worked as an orchestra musician and music teacher. Petrenko first continued his studies in Feldkirch before moving to Vienna to study conducting at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. 

His first job after graduation took him directly to the Vienna Volksoper where he was hired by Nikolaus Bachler as Kapellmeister. From 1999 until 2002 Kirill Petrenko was General Music Director at the Meininger Theater. It was in 2001 in his role as conductor of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, in the production by Christine Mielitz and with scenery by Alfred Hrdlicka, that he first achieved international acclaim. In 2002 Kirill Petrenko became General Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin where, until 2007, he was credited with a series of highly significant productions.

During his time in Meiningen and Berlin his international career also began to flourish. In 2000 Kirill Petrenko made his debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in 2001 at the Vienna Staatsoper and the Dresden Semperoper, in 2003 at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the New York Metropolitan Opera and in 2005 at the Oper Frankfurt. In Lyon, in collaboration with Peter Stein, he conducted all three Pushkin-inspired operas by Tchaikovsky (Mazeppa, Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame) from 2006 until 2008, which were also performed as a cycle in early 2010.

After moving on from the Komische Oper Berlin Kirill Petrenko worked as a freelance conductor. During this period his projects included conducting a new production of Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa (Production: Barbara Frey) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2009. In Frankfurt he conducted Pfitzner's Palestrina (Production: Harry Kupfer) and Puccini's Tosca (Production: Andreas Kriegenburg). In 2011 he worked on two new productions of Tristan and Isolde at the Opéra National de Lyon and at the Ruhrtriennale.

To date, the most important orchestras Kirill Petrenko has been invited to conduct include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the BR Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Staatsorchester, the WDR Cologne Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the NDR Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kirill Petrenko has also conducted concerts at the Bregenz and Salzburg Festivals. From 2013 to 2015 he swung his baton for the new production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen during the Bayreuth Festival.

Since September 2013 Kirill Petrenko has been General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He will be working in this position until the end of the 2019/20 season. Since 2013, he has taken to the rostrum for premieres of Die Frau ohne SchattenLa clemenza di TitoDie SoldatenLucia di Lammermoor, Lulu, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk District and Tannhäuser as well as the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s South Pole and a revival of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen among other works. In June 2015, Kirill Petrenko was named future Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, starting this position in autumn 2019.

In the current season at the Bayerische Staatsoper Kirill Petrenko led an new production of Verdi's Otello  and Strauss' Salome. Furthermore, Kirill Petrenko conducts revivals of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Fidelio, and Parsifal as well as two Academy Concerts with the Bayerische Staatsorchester.

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