Die Meistersinger, Act II

Before I go on to talk about the second Act of Die Meistersinger, I would like to give thanks to two people who have helped in the recounting of my time in Bayreuth; Carol who has provided several of the photographs seen on the pages, and Ragbert, the Web Boffin, who has been working around the clock to make corrections and overcome the technical problems inherent in making a website run.*

Nuremburg Rooftops.

In Act II, we see a small corner of Nuremberg. In the red corner, weighing in at 2000 lbs, was the exterior of Sachs' small workshop, close to the edge of the stage.  Opposing it and set back from the edge, in the blue trunks, was the more stately residence of Pogner.  Between the two ran the raised platform of the street, from which ran down two short flights of stairs:  one down to the tiny courtyard by Sachs' house, wherein stood a small tree and simple bench, while the other descended to a shadowed nook bearing rose bushes, where Eva and Walther could hide later.  To the rear of the stage ran a cobbled hill, descending from right to left.  Again there was the cyclorama which now depicted sepia-colored tiled rooftops of Nuremberg.

When the singers can sing and the band is well led and the sets lie easy on the eye, then one can sit back and relax and enjoy the show.

This was the first time I had seen Emily Magee, having heard her before on a Lyric Broadcast singing Ellen Orford and on the recent Lohengrin studio recording led by Barenboim.  She was a treat for the eyes as well as the ears.  Sitting close to the edge of the stage in the failing light, Robert Holl's voice had a warm resonance and his scenes with Eva made the time fly by.

The first appearance of the Nightwatchman, sung by Kwangchul Youn, showed him to be rather old and stooped.  It must have taken him weeks to walk the streets of Nuremberg....or maybe he just had this one street as his patrol.

The scene between Beckmesser and Sachs is indeed comical though rather long, but then I guess making a pair of shoes takes a while.  The first few times I saw Meistersinger were at the Met in New York 1995, and there I was lucky enough to hear Hermann Prey.  Andeas Schmidt is a keeper.  He has the voice for it and keeps the schtick subdued, giving the character some semblance of dignity.

The brawl found the stage swarming with men, women, and children, dressed in their snoozing attire, the set now lit by a convincing "moonlight".  At the sound of the watchman's horn they quickly melted into the night, leaving only the battered Beckmesser behind, clutching his aches.

Outside the Festspielhaus the moon was not yet up.  Pots of coffee were drained in preparation for the lengthy Act III ahead.  The hour long intermissions were a blessing: impractical outside of a festival setting, of course, but they certainly allowed one to avoid rushing and queuing, and minimised stress.

Act III would bring me face to face with my favorite chorus, singing "Wach Auf!!"  I barely took part in the intermission conversation, as in my mind I was running through the list of musical treats and delicacies Wagner had saved for the final Act.

To be continued......

* Note from the Web Boffin:  Thanks for the nod, Norris, much appreciated!   &:-)

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