Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

James Levine
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
16 December 1995
Metropolitan Opera House New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Hans SachsBernd Weikl
Veit PognerJan-Hendrik Rootering
Kunz VogelgesangJon Garrison
Konrad NachtigallChristopher Schaldenbrand
Sixtus BeckmesserHermann Prey
Fritz KothnerJohn Del Carlo
Balthasar ZornAnthony Laciura
Ulrich EißlingerCharles Anthony
Augustin MoserJohn Horton Murray
Hermann OrtelPhilip Cokorinos
Hans SchwartzLeRoy Lehr
Hans FoltzRichard Vernon
Walther von StolzingBen Heppner
DavidLars Magnusson
EvaKarita Mattila
MagdaleneBirgitta Svendén
Ein NachtwächterRené Pape
The Times

The “Meistersinger” performance, on the other hand, was perhaps the best I have heard. The glorious playing of the Met orchestra in the prelude was a foretaste of good things to come and the audience was not disappointed. Levine’s Wagner is not always to my taste – his interminable 1987 Ring was torture by boredom – but here he was at his most genial and moving, approaching greatness in his deeply felt accompaniment to Sachs’s “Elder-tree” and “Madness” monologues. Perhaps he was inspired by a cast that comes as near to an ideal as I suspect is possible today. It consisted, appropriately, of seasoned veterans – Bernd Weikl’s avuncular Sachs, Hermann Prey’s ditzy Beckmesser – and shining, youthful newcomers: Karita Mattila, the first Cardiff Singer of the World, has, after a shaky apprenticeship, blossomed into a near-perfect Eva. Herr Walther von Stolzing, the burly Canadian Ben Heppner, may be no oil-painting, but vocally his is the most handsome, golden-toned Heldentenor to grace the world’s stages in my opera-going lifetime. Lars Magnusson’s David sounded a little under par for the Met, but his nimble athleticism gives him histrionic advantages in the part; Birgitta Svenden (Covent Garden’s current Erda in The Ring) is luxury casting for Eva’s chaperone Magdalena, and the Mastersingers’ Guild was strongly led by Jan-Hendrik Rootering’s Veit Pogner and Alan Held’s Fritz Kothner. Weikl’s Sachs probably has no peer today and Prey’s Beckmesser, seedier, more crotchety than in his famous Bayreuth impersonation in 1981, has acquired classic status. All told, I cannot recall a more enjoyable “Meistersinger” than this superb revival. Museum or no, the Metropolitan Opera still has its uses.

Hugh Canning

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
636 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 1.1 GByte (flac)
Matinee broadcast
A production by Otto Schenk (1993)