Monday, October 5, 2015

Review: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Staatsoper Berlin


So, Wagner. Barenboim. Berlin. Always a successful combination. At least commercially. The fact that Andrea Moses directed this Meistersinger production just adds up the excitement. In the past years the director has accomplished exciting new and solid ways approaching Wagner operas in Oper Stuttgart. And what a production this time.
This Meistersinger doesn't offer something new. No, it's neither radical serious like Katharina Wagner's in Bayreuth nor classic colorful- quite cheery Stephan Herheim's Salzburg production 2 years ago. It's simply a solid modern production.

The first act is set in a room, a church turn into the Meistersinger hall to be precise - which perfectly fits the original story. The master singers, who originally are ordinary craftsmen, are portrayed as modern-day businessmen. because all the old handwork traditional industry in Germany, well, they're big companies now. Hans Sachs is quite a different master, ressembling Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, looks a bit like a drunkard. Julia Kleiter's Eva is a modern woman in a black revealing dress, instead a traditional Bavarian dirndl. The Lehrbuben resemble waiters, serving their masters. Not much fantasy in the visual. It's good and fit.

The second act is set on the rooftop of Sachs' house (or office? Factory?) next to Pogner's with huge light signs displaying their names on the background. Markus Werba and Wolfgang Koch are really brilliant in thier dialogue scene. The outburst that closes the act is wonderfully staged: the hipster, the football fans, the LGBT supporters waving the rainbow flags, the punk kids - mainly everyone you meet during a long walk through Berlin-Mitte disctrict are on the stage.

The third act begins in Sachs' library and ends in front of the (future) Schloss Berlin. Klaus Florian Vogt is brilliant in singing the Stolzing's song. Entering the second part, the doors of the hall are opened to let a parade come in and march into the stage. During the Sachs' (sadly after WWII rather infamous) closing monologue, a few Pegida flags rise up during the line "...Uns draeuen ueble Streich...(Evil threatens us)". Hans Sachs immediately hush them away. The whole cast turns their backs on the audience and stare the blue sky upon the green prairies. May there be a good future for Germany.

It's quite funny that I like a production that actually offers nothing new like this. An explanation for that is, maybe because Moses is able to keep this opera as a a comedy opera (as Wagner intended to) without being too cheeky or embarrassing.  Every element is in place and in the right proportion.

The premiere in the euphoria of the 25th anniversary of Germany reunification was a huge success.Klaus Florian Vogt and Wolfgang Koch received the biggest applause. Daniel Barenboim, who has conducted several "Meistersinger" in the past, has once again proved himself to be one of the leading Wagnerian conductors of our time.

It's a triumph for all Wagnerians, also for all opera fans. Yes, including those who usually can't stand the long duration of Wagner operas - they may also enjoy this one.

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