Dum! daa.....daa dum...

Festspielhaus exterior.Thus began the masterpiece of sonic architecture known as the Meistersinger Prelude; a mighty cathedral of scraping, tootling, and banging.  It was led by the newly Knighted Sir Daniel Barenboim: after the previous night's Tristan, I had been on the phone screaming at Her Royal Majesty, pointing out to her some of the oafs who had been Knighted under her rule.  "One has been drinking- has one not?" she responded.  "Well of course, woman!" I spluttered, "this is Norris!"  She explained that in London the post offices were not yet open but as soon as they were she would "pop out and mail a Knighthood in a jiffy".

Can you imagine President Clinton being that amenable?  God Bless you Ma'am!

Back in the Festspielhaus all the little threads of the grand tapestry were brought forth to shine, the woodwinds bouncing along merrily as Sir Dan propelled the orchestra forward.  Perhaps a little too rushed to allow the strands of counterpoint to neatly dovetail at the climax as all the themes come together.  Over my shoulder a kitchen sink went flying.

A beautiful stage picture appeared when the curtain parted:  the choir arranged on a V-shaped shallow platform with a huge projection of stained-glass windows colored in a muted green on the cyclorama behind.  Upstage at centre, facing the audience, was a bench supporting the bottoms of Eva (Emily Magee) and Magdalena (Birgita Svenden).  The cast was dressed in period costume in muted blues and greys.  To my left stood young Walther (Robert Dean Smith), a dashingly good-looking fellow from Kansas, dressed in a stylish rusty-red floor length coat with matching vest and trousers.  He had a nice clarion ping to his voice as had Emily Magee who was very striking looking, shapely of form and crowned with a mane of flaming red hair.  Her voice was warm and lustrous.

David soon bounded on in the shape of another handsome fellow known as Endrik Wottrich, a new name to me, a young fresh faced chap with a pleasing voice which would constrict somewhat when pushed.  The occasionally endless-seeming "catalogue of tones" (my quotes) song passed quite quickly from this David and soon the music announced the arrival of the resplendently garbed Meisters.  Stools had been placed for them meantime by the apprentices who had used the cleverly designed narrow entrances at each side of the V to furnish the stage with the necessary desk, singer's chair, Tabulatur of rules, and of course the Marker's Box, with the minimum of disruption.

There were a couple of great singers among the Meisters; notable mentions to Hans Joachim Ketelsen whose booming timbre made Kothner's lines ones to anticipate with relish (hold the mustard).  Nachtigall was sung by a name to take notice of:  Roman Trekel, who would sing the Herald in our Lohengrin.  Hans Sachs was entrusted to Robert Holl who was worthy and hard-working.  Beckmesser was well sung and played by Andreas Schmidt who wasn't asked to act like a complete ass, which had soured my enjoyment of the stellar Eike Wilm Schulte in Chicago last March.  Familiar names to you from many Bayreuth performances and videos, would be the Ortel of Sandor Solyom-Nagy, Moser of Helmut Pampuch, Eisslinger of Peter Maus and Pogner of Matthias Hölle (yikes!)  New to me were Alfred Reiter as Schwarz, Jyrki Korhonen as Foltz, Bernhard Schneider as Vogelgesang, and Torsten Kerl as Zorn.

Apart from Hölle, who is close to being voice-less, it was a fine cast.  They were of course asked to wildly overact and gesticulate in a crazy semaphore of dismissive wrist waving, brow slapping, stage whispering and the such.  Less is more in my book of stage direction (currently at the printer's).

Robert Dean Smith was working hard on hitting the higher notes and I was hoping he could pace himself until the end.

Act I passed in what seemed like a half hour.  Outside it was as sunny and cheerful as it had been inside.  Festspielhaus duckpond.Our plates of food were waiting on the table.  Eugene joined us and we had a pleasant hour to catch up on his news.  He was a friend of the good Dr. Wolf who had arranged for Carol's medicine over the phone:  medicine which meant she could eat and enjoy the performances.  It was they who had hosted our mutual friend Terri during her visit to the Ring Cycle in Kassel, Germany back in June.

Pleasant weather, grand company, a full tum and a glass of champagne....could life get any better than this?  I went back into the Festspielhaus to find out.

To be continued......

  TOP of PAGE  
© 1999 NorrisAd™
Website Design by:
Want your own website? Talk to me!