Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

James Levine
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
17 November 2001
Metropolitan Opera House New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Hans SachsJames Morris
Veit PognerRené Pape
Kunz VogelgesangEric Cutler
Konrad NachtigallEarle Patriarco
Sixtus BeckmesserEike Wilm Schulte
Fritz KothnerAlan Held
Balthasar ZornJonathan Welch
Ulrich EißlingerCharles Anthony
Augustin MoserBernard Fitch
Hermann OrtelThomas Hammons
Hans SchwartzLeRoy Lehr
Hans FoltzRichard Vernon
Walther von StolzingJohan Botha
DavidMathias Zachariassen
EvaSolveig Kringelborn
MagdaleneJill Grove
Ein NachtwächterJohn Relyea
The Wall Street Journal

‘A Masterful ‘Meistersinger’

The season’s first “Meistersinger” at the Met was brimming over with vocal talent and unpretentious good humor. Wagner’s celebration of song and male bonding in Renaissance Nuremberg was welcomed by a company united in a long and resounding salute to art as the highest good. James Morris, singing the role of the senior Master Singer Hans Sachs for the first time in New York, put across its thousands of words with great authority and aplomb.

In the first act, Mr. Morris seemed to be watching and biding his time; Sachs only really swings into action in Act II. But even as an observer, Mr. Morris projected a wonderful balance of humor, gravitas and down-to-earth humanity, a man who has everybody’s number but never lets them know it and uses his knowledge for good. With impressive vocal stamina and variety, he stylishly shaped the long monologues for meaning. In Act II, he had great fun teasing the envious, carping Beckmesser, making “Jerum,” his hammering serenade, as broad as possible while “Wahn!” — his dreamy, musing monologue in Act III — was beautifully and thoughtfully sung, with a lovely high pianissimo on the word Johannisnacht that brought us straight into Sachs’ heart.

He was in fine company. Johan Botha was a terrific Walther, with a glorious, ringing tenor for the “Prize Song,” and an amiable low-key sense of comedy. Walther, after all, is completely out of his element with these Meistersingers and their rules, and his bafflement is part of the story. Eike Wilm Schulte was a hilarious Beckmesser, with splendid diction and comic timing. Solveig Kringelborn sang a warm, lively Eva, anchoring the performance with a gutsy, glowing, yet young-sounding soprano. With all these men competing for her, she never seemed at a loss, but embodied their feminine ideal in an earthy, personal way.

Matthias Zachariassen, making his début as David, Sachs’ apprentice, displayed a flexible, light tenor and winning bumptiousness. In a piece of luxury casting, René Pape sang Eva’s rich dad Pogner, and his sumptuous, caressing bass made women drool every time he opened his mouth. We missed him in Acts II and III. Allan Held was capable and funny as the exasperated head Meistersinger, Kothner. James Levine provided the benevolent and spirited musical direction. The orchestra and chorus sounded splendid, and Peter McClintock ably staged the Otto Schenk production. The whole show exuded joy.

HEIDI WALESON | Nov. 26, 2001

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Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
192 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 373 MByte (MP3)
In-house recording
A production by Otto Schenk (1993)