ALBUM TITLE: Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
WORKS: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
PERFORMER: Michael Volle, Roberto Saccà, Anna Gabler, Peter Sonn, Georg Zeppenfeld, Monika Bohinec, Markus Werba; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic/Daniele Gatti; dir. Stefan Herheim (Salzburg, 2013) EuroArts 2072688 (D
This production of Wagner’s great comedy drew mixed reactions when it was unveiled at Salzburg last year, both for the musical and the scenic direction. In some ways watching it on DVD or Blu-ray puts us in a more favourable position; in other ways we clearly lose. The Grosses Festspielhaus, where the performances took place, is enormous, and there were many complaints that some of the main singers were hardly audible. And the stage is huge too, so that, since many of the scenes in Meistersinger take place in intimate surroundings, it is hard to know what to do with the rest of the acreage.
So far as the voices are concerned, the home listener is the clear winner. None of them seems too small, an accusation made against both the Eva and the Walther. In fact the close miking is too much of a good thing. The Hans Sachs, taken by Michael Volle, usually a sensitive singer, bawls almost throughout, and seems both stentorian and uninterested. He begins the opera, before the Overture, by distractedly walking on in his nightgown and nightcap, going to his desk and writing at the speed which only operatic characters can attain.
The opera itself is presented as a collection of fairy tales, duly earning boos for the director Stefan Herheim at the end. In fact this production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, though often pleasant to look at, comes across as a complete mess. The conductor, Daniele Gatti, takes a relatively lightweight view of the score. Beckmesser, taken by Markus Werba, is outstanding: he is a gifted bureaucrat who mistakes the nature of his talents. Smart and good-looking, his is a clever performance. Overall this is a fairly interesting account, but by no means the best on DVD. Michael Tanner