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The Mastersingers


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Opera in three acts
Music and words by Wagner
Sung in German
The action takes place in Nuremberg, about the middle of the sixteenth century
Act 1 The interior of St. Katherine's Church
Act 2 The street outside Pogner's
Act 3 Scene 1: Sachs's workshop, leading to Scene 2: A meadow on the Pegnitz

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg
No superficial Christmas connection exists with Die Meistersinger - indeed, it all takes place within the ancient circle of midsummer magic - yet there is no opera that has more to say about goodwill among men. Operas abound to satirise our weaknesses, to stir our conscience, to hymn gods or heroes or ideals: none other sends us away so reassured about the goodness to be found in simple, slighted man.
There is no contradiction here with the rest of Wagner. He may have been most vividly interested in goodwill when it was channelled towards himself (especially if financially expressed). But Beckmesser is attacked because he is small-minded; and Hans Sachs's greatness lie in his generosity of soul, above all in recognising the power of the new art that has ruffled the rules of the ancient guild he reveres.
'Honour your German masters! ' So Sachs admonishes Walther when the impatient young knight wins the contest and his bride Eva, but refuses to join the Mastersingers who have slighted him. All the most important motives of Romanticism culminate in Wagner; and the interest in the country's past, prominent among them, invokes not only heroic legend (as in The Ring), but the life of the simple burghers of the ancient townships. There is no warmer, deeper comedy in music than Die Meistersinger, no richer way of filling a long afternoon with comfort and joy. (JOHN WARRACK)


Conducted By: Rudolf Kempe

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Sunday Post: Christmas Day 1965 20 December 2015

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