Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Berislav Klobučar
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera Stockholm
1 October 1977
Royal Opera House Stockholm
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Hans SachsLeif Roar
Veit PognerArne Tyrén
Kunz VogelgesangJohn-Erik Jacobsson
Konrad NachtigallCarl-Johann Falkmann
Sixtus BeckmesserErik Saedén
Fritz KothnerBjörn Asker
Balthasar ZornHans Johansson
Ulrich EißlingerLars Kullenbo
Augustin MoserKolbjørn Høiseth
Hermann OrtelPaul Höglund
Hans SchwartzSten Wahlund
Hans FoltzRolf Cederlöf
Walther von StolzingSven-Olof Eliasson
DavidGösta Winbergh
EvaHelena Döse
MagdaleneEdith Thallaug
Ein NachtwächterBo Lundborg
Stage directorGötz Friedrich
Set designerGünther Schneider-Siemssen
TV directorThomas Olofsson

The following night at the Royal Opera, Götz Friedrich once again demonstrated his genius. His production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg stresses the warm, comic aspects of the work and the characters as human beings with all their virtues and faults: myth and moralising are completely absent. In Hans Sachs the homely cobbler-philosopher is emphasized, a man who, having seen all the foibles of the world, was no longer surprised by anything; this is not the same as saying that he accepted everything with equanimity, for he was clearly upset at the loss of Eva and a certain measure of disgust came through in his `Wahn’ monologue. Some critics had reservations about Leif Roar’s Sachs. I can understand that a successful portrayal of Sachs as a larger-than-life father figure would probably be beyond his resources, but for Friedrich’s concept Roar was ideal. Friedrich is obviously fascinated by the character of Beckmesser, and his study of the town clerk is the masterpiece of the production: a fussy, pedantic politician who could effortlessly keep the whole town running like a perfect computer, self-important but nice to everyone. It is made clear that his behaviour in Act 3 is a direct result of his experience on the previous night : Beckmesser has become a classic paranoiac. His rendition of the Prize Song has never been funnier, and yet after he had been laughed off the platform one felt extremely sorry for him. He did not go away sour, but stayed to hear Walther sing the song and was obviously impressed by it. Afterwards he and Sachs had a good-natured reconciliation. Erik Saeden’s interpretation surpassed even my expectations; what a surprise it was to see a singer who normally performs such roles as father Germont, the Dutchman and Gunther reveal such a wealth of comic talent. Whatever the citizens of Nuremberg may have thought, it was Beckmesser who, after Hans Sachs, got the heartiest applause from the Stockholm audience. As his rival Stolzing we had Sven-Olof Eliasson. He looked very handsome and was in beautiful voice, but a couple of top notes bothered him in `Fanget an’ and his breath control does not exactly produce the smoothest of legatos. A very successful choice was that of a lyric tenor, Gosta Winbergh, as David, which permitted a more substantial development of the character than the clownish young lout he so often appears when a character-tenor assumes the role. Helena Dose is a real find as Eva: warm, affectionate and impulsive. Still in her 20s, she will go a long way if she continues wisely to turn down offers from opera houses that are as yet too large for her voice. Giinther Schneider-Siemssen’s sets were mixed. In Act 1 we saw not a cross-section but the entire church, as if we were standing in the rear of it. The priest at the altar stood behind a white gauze, which created the illusion that the church is much longer than the stage allows it to be. Act 2 was oppressively gloomy; since it takes place on Midsummer Eve I can never understand why it is so often played in nearly total darkness. Act 3 was fairly conventional, but it was amazing how they managed to fit such a vast number of people on to the stage in the final scene: besides the chorus and acrobat troupes, there were 20 children (some of them very young indeed) and 70 extras. To Aliute Meczies went the formidable task of designing 560 costumes; they were good enough, but could not a 561st costume have been created for poor Walther, who had to sing the Prize Song in the same suit that he had worn for the previous two-and-a-half acts? Credit must also go to chorus master Lasse Zilliacus and his charges, the 150-member opera chorus augmented with 40 members of Stockholm’s Student Singers. The audience applauded with wild enthusiasm the conductor, Berislav Klobucar, but I was less than enthusiastic about the way so many of the singers had been drowned. Perhaps this was not the case if one was sitting higher up than I was.

NANCY BENVENGA | February 1978

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
720×544, 1.4 Mbit/s, 2.5 GByte (MPEG-4)