Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Nuremberg

Last Saturday (October 15th), the Staatstheater Nürnberg premiered their new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The show was broadcast to the central city square for public viewing and apparently it was a success. 

Last Scene from The Mastersingers of Nuremberg at Staatstheater Nürnberg: Hans Sachs (Albert Pesendorfer)

Now, what is so special about this particular production? 

Well, it is the first time that this opera is produced by an Israeli director. To me the stories about the relation of the music by Wagner and the Nazi propaganda are often either pointless or simply boring. However this opera is indeed special in that regard because it was heavily used to promote both a vulgar form of the German nationalism prior to 1944, and antisemitism. For that reason every new production of the Meistersinger in Germany is handled with great care. The text (libretto) is what it is and the producer is regularly very careful not to cross the line any of the two dangerous lines, (1) during/after the Hans Sachs' final speech, and (2) in the portrayal of Beckmesser. That was wonderfully done by Andreas Homoki at the Komische Oper in Berlin who simply staged the whole show beautifully and has put the comedy in the foreground (Beckmesser was actually one of the most sympathetic characters on the stage.)

So this Nuremberg production is staged by David Mouchtar-Samorai, who basically does what I believe was a reasonable thing to do. His Beckmesser is obviously Jewish: he shows up with a yellow flower on his lapel and wears an old-fashioned kippah; later in the show he wears a yellow scarf...  Why making it implicit or tacit?!
The stage is organized as to make the action look intemporal (the sets are theatric, "modern") and only in the 3rd act it becomes clear that the action takes place today. The final celebration is organized on a stadium, among the local soccer team (FCN) fans and with dozens of German flags waving all over the stage. In the end of the final Sachs' speech the European flags actually dominate the stage - designing the future.
David's implicit message is "Move on!" and let the art speak the past but pointed toward future.

Apart from that idea, I am not really crazy about the way the whole action was organized, but that must be a question of personal taste, and I'll let you decide how much you actually like it.
In any case the show is certainly better than the tired Glyndebourne production presented last summer (and that in spite of the phenomenal Johannes Martin Kränzle.) The singers in this show are not the international stars but they are really good, especially Albert Pesendorfer.

Dir- David Mouchtar-Samorai; Cnd- Marcus Bosch; Cast: Albert Pesendorfer (Hans Sachs), Guido Jentjens (Pogner), Jochen Kupfer (Sixtus Beckmesser), Michael Putsch (Walther von Stolzing), Tilman Lichdi (David), Michaela Maria Mayer (Eva), Leila Pfister (Magdalena)...

Our beloved Arte Live Web provided the same broadcast and the video is available for free viewing during the next 3 months (I understood a DVD of this show will be released sometimes next year.) Here is your link and the same video is embedded below:

1 comment:

  1. i really thoroughly enjoyed this production - traditional yet innovative. loved the deers/fawns cavorting in act 2 - especially at the act's conclusion. what was the significance of beckmesser's rummaging through the sach's chest in act 3 and finding the "jewish star" (and ring)-are we to imply that sach's had jewish affiliations?? i thought the glyndebourne production had its merits but it did have a claustrophobic aura to it (the set!). this nurnberg production was such a refreshing contrast! i thought the singing and playing on a very high level. not wanting to be perceived as trivial....but did anyone else see physical similarities in the walther to thomas hampson and herman monster?