Royal Opera House Heritage Series – Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg/Haitink

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Opera in three acts to a libretto by the composer

Walther von Stolzing – Gösta Winbergh
Eva – Nancy Gustafson
Magdalene – Catherine Wyn-Rogers
David – Herbert Lippert
Veit Pogner – Gwynne Howell
Sixtus Beckmesser – Thomas Allen
Hans Sachs – John Tomlinson
Kunz Vogelgesang – Alasdair Elliott
Konrad Nachtigall – Richard Lloyd-Morgan
Fritz Kothner – Anthony Michaels-Moore
Hermann Ortel – Grant Dickson
Balthasar Zorn – Robin Leggate
Augustin Moser – John Dobson
Ulrich Eiβlinger – Paul Crook
Hans Foltz – Simon Wilding
Hans Schwarz – Geoffrey Moser
A Nightwatchman – Michael Druiett

The Royal Opera Chorus

The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Bernard Haitink

Graham Vick – Director

Recorded 12 July 1997 at The Royal Opera House, London

Reviewed by: Alexander Campbell

Reviewed: May 2008
Duration: 4 hours 25 minutes



The Royal Opera House Heritage Series is not only concerned with recordings from the 1950s and 1960s but also with the more recent history of the House.

Here is a 1997 “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”, a recording of the final complete operatic performance in the ‘old’ building before it shut for redevelopment and just as the Company entered a period in which its future and sometimes even its survival seemed somewhat uncertain. Those problems were still to come, as there is no doubt that here was a Company on a considerable artistic high. Graham Vick’s truthful, sunny, and minutely detailed production of “Die Meistersinger…” with its Breughel-inspired designs had seen its first performances a few years earlier and was a showcase for some wonderfully observed and sung performances from the main protagonists – most of whom returned for the final performances of that season.

lieder-singer’s detail to text that helped bring this character to brilliant comic life. Beckmesser is after all a member of the Mastersingers guild and therefore must have some talent. His Act Two serenade to Eva comes across as a genuinely serious attempt at wooing, and as Allen sings it is actually rather beautiful – until Sachs’s hammer-blows interrupt and even then he maintains his determination to win through. His Act Three song with all its wrong words is very funny even without the visual reference. Allen captures the irascible pettiness of the character to perfection and also brings pathos to the character (one recalls the moment when Beckmesser first hears Walther from behind the marker’s screen and sat there overwhelmed by the beauty and bravery of it before being startled into action against his supposed rival). It is good to have Allen’s performance enshrined in sound – one just wishes the production had been filmed, too!

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