James Levine Leads Wagner's Great Comedy "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" on "Great Performances at the Met"

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08 April 2015
Great Performances at the Met
Photo: Michael Volle (center) as Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
"Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" ("The Mastersinger of Nuremberg")
Sunday, April 12 at 11 a.m. on PBS
(Check local listings)
          Met Music Director James Levine conducts Wagner's epic human comedy Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg ("The Mastersinger of Nuremberg") in its first Great Performances at the Met broadcast.
          German baritone Michael Volle stars as cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, with South African tenor Johan Botha as Walther, German soprano Annette Dasch as Eva, German baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle in his Met debut as Beckmesser, German bass Hans-Peter König as Pogner, American tenor Paul Appleby as David, and Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill as Magdalene.
          Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will be broadcast on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 12 at 11 a.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.) Soprano Renée Fleming hosts the broadcast.
          The lengthy opera was first performed in Munich in 1868. The story takes place in Nuremberg during the middle of the 16th century, and revolves around the actual Meistersinger (master singers) guild, an association of amateur poets and musicians. The work accurately depicts both Nuremberg and the Meistersinger guild's traditions. Hans Sachs, too, is based on an actual historical figure (1494-1576).
          It is Wagner's only comedy among his mature operas and also has the distinction of being set in a historical time and place rather than a mythical setting, and the only one based on an original story.
          The story relates how Eva, a goldsmith's daughter, and Walther von Stolzing, a knight, fall in love, but Walther must quickly learn the art of the Meistersinger, studying under Sachs, as Eva's father has promised her to the winner of a song contest.
          In reviewing this season's revival, The New York Times noted, "Otto Schenk's lovingly traditional 1993 production of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg... offered an excellent cast and the magnificent Met Orchestra and Chorus. The powerful tenor Johan Botha has excelled in the demanding role of Walther... The soprano Annette Dasch's bright, focused voice suits Eva beautifully. She was beguiling in the role."
          And The Huffington Post observed, "The world of grand opera is generally not known for its comedies, and few are quite as grand, funny or poignant as the Metropolitan Opera's magnificent production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg..."
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