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Michael Hampe's acclaimed production of Wagner's comic opera tells a charming, human, romantic love story.
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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is Wagner's only comedy, a Wagner opera that will appeal to many who don't usually care for Wagner operas. It is handsomely staged by the Australian Opera in a witty, musically polished interpretation. The characters (medieval German bourgeois craftsmen and artists) are recognizable types you might still see today: three-dimensional, warm, funny. Except for the villainous Beckmesser (Wagner's caricature of the music critic Hanslick), the people in Die Meistersinger are relatively free of the kind of obsessions that haunt so many characters in other Wagner operas.
This is, among other things, an opera about the nature of music, and it gives the composer opportunities, which he uses brilliantly, to show off his technical mastery. Conductor Charles Mackerras and a well-chosen cast, including Helen Doese, Donald McIntyre, Paul Frey, and John Pringle, meet the music's challenges effectively, though there are some signs of vocal fatigue in the last act. --Joe McLellanFrom the Back Cover:
Michael Hampe's acclaimed production of Wagner's comic opera tells a charming, human, romantic love story and yet, at the same time, registers his protest against the narrow-minded critics and the prejudiced public who for so long refused him recognition. Set in picturesque sixteenth century Nürnberg, the plot revolves around a singing contest, organized by the guild of Mastersingers and the prize promised by the goldsmith, Veit Pogner--his daughter Eva's hand in marriage. Hans Sachs, an historical German composer, cobbler, and philosopher gradually becomes accepted as the hero of the whole drama. Helena Doese sings Eva, with Paul Frey and John Pringle as the suitors (Walther and Beckmesser) and Donald McIntyre as Sachs. Sir Charles Mackerras conducts. 277 minutes, color, in German, recorded live at the Sydney Opera House, October 14, 1988. Cast:
Helena Doese: Eva
Donald McIntyre: Sachs
Paul Frey: Walther
John Pringle: Beckmesser
Christopher Doig: David
Donald Shanks: Pogner
Robert Allman: Kothner
Rosemary Gunn: Magdalena
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