LOC Meistersinger

Date: 3/7/99 9:56 PM

I listened to the Meistersinger broadcast from the Lyric on Opening Night a few weeks ago and had commented to a friend at that time that when it came time to hear it in the house, I would at least take comfort in the stellar orchestra and superlative chorus.  That was based on some weak performances among the principals over the airwaves.

So, braving the Arctic weather and puddles of slush I took my rightful place up front and dead center in the Lyric last night and six hours later found myself rising unexpectedly to my feet for Jan Henrik Rootering.  On the broadcast it had sounded like he was being shaken by the shoulders, such was his wobble and it had me fearing a long night.  This was a great performance, vocally and histrionically from Jan.  He could do no wrong from start to finish.  Rene Pape was the first man to bring me to my feet and having heard him in 3 different roles since October, all gloriously sung, I have to say I'd even go to hear Mozart if he were singing it.  He sang Pogner.

Eike Wilm Schulte, I have been raving about for 4 years and now that Chicago has had a chance to see what he can do in his debut role I expect to see him return here again and again.  He had a couple of walks in the first, batted in a couple of runners in the second and homered with the bases loaded in the third.  Unfortunately he was required to over-act to a ridiculous degree as were most of the players.  Supernumeraries and chorus members worked up a sweat gesturing and fidgeting and pantomiming.  The list of stage actions must have resembled a telephone directory.  There were 12 Meisters in act 1 for the song trial and 14 chorus members as apprentices, David and Walther, and you only have to know the square of the number 28 to figure out how many hand shakes, hand waves, head nods, silent conversations, grins, chuckles, exclaimations of amusement, puzzlement, scorn, disbelief were being enacted all at once.  The word "director" seems somehow inappropriate for the ditzy wally who put all this fol de rol on stage.  It looked a lot better when I closed my eyes.

Schulte is a glorious SINGER and should he do Amfortas, say, within flying distance, I shall be there .

The other stars of the night were those I had expected to shine....the orchestra led by Christian Thielmann and that chorus who gave me the Mightiest most sublime WACH AUF this side of Bayreuth and it's really only the acoustic of the Festspielhaus that tips the scales, ever so slightly.

I will get to hear Die Meistersinger in the Festspielhaus in July but until then will live on the memory of last night's stellar Lyric performance.

There's obviously more to Chicago than sassages and 'kraut (and Ditka)


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