Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg: Libretto [Richard Wagner] on * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. (Opera). German/English. SAN FRANCISCO OPERA Education Materials DIE MEISTERSINGER VON Read online or download pdf of Wagnerʼs libretto for The Master-singers of. Is it possible to avoid the antisemitic caricature that McVicar says Wagner writes into his libretto and composes into his music for Meistersinger?.
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I t’s a cliche to say that Hitler liked his Wagner. David McVicar is the director of Glyndebourne’s first ever staging of the piece, which opens tomorrow. But if you produce the end of Meistersinger according to Wagner’s own stage directions, it would be unbelievably alarming.
That alarm bell rings at the combination of antisemitism and German nationalism, the sound amplified by the poisonous story of the opera’s reception by the Nazis. You can argue the case with Wagner’s other operas — such as the Ring or Tristan and Isolde — as to how much Wagner’s own thinking and philosophy comes close to Nazi ideology.
But in Meistersinger, there’s much more of a case to answer. As McVicar puts it, Wagner “dropped big fucking clanging clues” in his text and his music as to how he wanted the piece to be interpreted: Here’s the climax of what he sings: Evil tricks threaten us: Those last words about the supremacy of German art are repeated by the massed Volk of Wagner’s idealised medieval Nuremberg, an image of the social and cultural unanimity to which Germany — not yet united at the time Wagner was writing — ought to aspire, set to the overblown strains of the music for the pompous, self-important mastersingers.
For the Nazis, this could hardly be a better fit as an image of a monocultural Germany, one based in the products of its own soil, which refuses to admit any “foreign” — above all, Jewish — “vanities”.
Wagner Operas — The Operas — Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
That’s the darkness in the piece. It’s a darkness embodied in the treatment of Beckmesser, who is humiliated and ejected from the community of mastersingers in the final act. He is a participant in a singing contest, the prize of which is Eva, who is “put up for raffle”, as McVicar says, by her father, Pogner. But Beckmesser loses to Walther, the knight whose song breaks the rules but wins the hearts of the audience.
The irony is that Beckmesser – a stickler for the rules of the Mastersingers’ art – is the judge who had, in the first act, denied Walther entrance to the guild, but it is he who is then forced out by the entire community at the end of the opera. And Wagner’s Beckmesser is a Jewish caricature.
That’s completely clear for McVicar. You just need a cursory knowledge of Wagner’s meistrrsinger writings to see the central idea of the animosity of the Jews in German society embodied and described in artistic terms in the character of Beckmesser. And in Wagner’s mind, this erasing of foreign, Jewish influence is the spiritual story of Germany, an idea that culminates in his last opera, Parsifal, which in its darkest reading, is an agenda for how Germany can purify itself.
It gets really scary. All of which raises the question: Is it possible to avoid the meistersinyer caricature that McVicar says Wagner writes into his libretto and composes into his music for Meistersinger? I won’t let that get on to the stage,” McVicar says. Instead, what audiences will see in Glyndebourne’s production is a man who starts out as Sachs’s friend and equal at the start of the opera, an intelligent, respected pillar of the community rather than a snivelling, hunched villain.
McVicar isn’t changing what happens to Beckmesser, but he refuses to indulge in the caricature. But librwtto don’t have to make the audience approve of it.
Die Meistersinger von Wagner
Wagner wants us to heartily approve of Beckmesser’s humiliation. But we don’t need the audience cheerleading him on meistersinyer the Nurembergers laugh him off stage. The problem is that it’s very, very funny when he fucks up that song. But there’s a price to be paid for the mockery. It has to be upsetting, horrifying, when everyone turns against him. When we talked about this, I said: All this is part of McVicar’s “looking Meistersinger squarely in the face and recognising the dark undercurrents which are barely beneath meistersunger surface”.
But he is adamant there’s more to the opera than Sachs’s final speech. That last speech is the achilles heel of the opera, and you can’t just produce those last few minutes. Here in Glyndebournewe can look at it from another angle. I was interested in asking: What’s the kernel of these ideas of Meistersingrr nationalism? The unique history of Glyndebourne is folded into the fabric of this production.
John Christie, the festival’s founder, was a Wagner fan who put on a small-scale performance of the third act of Meistersinger in the organ room of the house inlibertto years before the festival opened. Christie himself sang Beckmesser, and photos in the Libretyo archive show Christie and his cast resplendent in their cliched medieval costumes on a perfect June evening in Tomorrow night is the fulfilment of an year-old dream for the Christie family, who still run Glyndebourne, but it will also meistersimger the revelation of a more human vision of Meistersinger than the barnstorming meistrrsinger in the world’s huge houses, or the postmodern, concept-driven stagings in Germany.
That will be true in the orchestra pit, too, where conductor Vladimir Jurowski wants to create a Meistersinger that has the intimacy of chamber music as well as the thrill of grand public spectacle. At the heart of the production is the baritone Gerald Finley, whose Sachs is his first Wagnerian role on stage. Unlike the bearded sages who have made the role their own in years gone by, Finley is a clean-shaven, youthful-looking year-old, who brings the subtlety and craft of a lieder llibretto to the role, something you can do in the smaller acoustic of Glyndebourne but you couldn’t do at the Met.
He finds himself in the darkest pits of despair, removing any hope of love in his own life as he hands over Eva to Walther.
In facing up to the darknesses of Meistersinger, what McVicar really wants to do is give the piece new life as a human drama. It has to be so much more alive and so much more accessible. I want to take people on a journey, I want them meixtersinger identify with these people and this community. As a wannabe Wagnerian teenager, I made the mistake of starting with Die Meistersinger on record, dutifully saving up for a rare but lauded performance by Herbert von Karajan, recorded live at Bayreuth inand trying to follow the action from an ancient copy of the libretto.
I was all prepared for a moment of Wagnerian transcendence.
But it didn’t happen. But all that changes when you see a good production. Suddenly you realise that all those melodic meanderings have a precise expressive effect, that each bar of the score is full of a drama and life that turns the characters into flesh-and-blood human beings — even, despite Wagner’s meistersigner efforts, Beckmesser.
As ever with Wagner, to really understand the problems with Meistersinger, you have to experience them, and be moved by them. The greatest moments are surely the inward, intimate monologues when Sachs’s soul is most vulnerable, above all in the third act.
The most dramatic, transparent performance I’ve heard on disc is conducted by Fritz Reiner, live at the Vienna Staatsoper in David McVicar’s production of Meistersinger is completely sold out, but you can see it on 26 June, when theguardian.
The performance begins at 2. If you miss it then, you can catch up with it at any time for the next seven days. Meistermind — how to enjoy Wagner’s most accessible opera For David McVicar, Die Meistersinger may be Wagner’s most melodious and accessible opera, but a word of advice: Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All.
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