11–31 MARCH 2017
Kasper Holten makes his farewell as The Royal Opera’s Director of Opera with Wagner’s comic opera, conducted by Antonio Pappano and starring Bryn Terfel.
Walther falls in love with Eva. When he discovers that she shall marry the man who wins the Mastersingers’ song competition, he determines to be that man. However, his Trial Song to enter the guild is rejected, and Walther leaves full of contempt for the Mastersingers’ backwards ways.
Walther attempts to elope with Eva, but their efforts are confounded by a midsummer riot. Instead, the Mastersinger Hans Sachs helps Walther write a new song for the competition. This new song extends but also respects the formal rules of the Mastersingers, who are swept away by its ardour and award Walther the prize.
Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg celebrates and investigates the nature of art, through music of great warmth and extraordinary technical accomplishment. It is Wagner’s only mature comedy, and for it he created a cast of strong characters led by the cobbler Hans Sachs, inspired by the real-life 16th-century Meistersinger. Musical highlights abound: the triumphant overture, the astonishing Midsummer riot and Walther’s winning Prize Song ‘Morgenlich leuchtend in rosigem Schein’, culminating in an overwhelming final celebration of the value of national culture. However, this very German nationalism has long exposed the opera to particular scrutiny, making Die Meistersinger the most complexly received opera in Wagner’s output.
Kasper Holten ends his tenure as The Royal Opera’s Director of Opera with this new production. He finds parallels between the hierarchical, tradition-bound ways of the Meistersingers and the historical ritual and pageantry still evident in today’s London – thus teasing out Wagner’s wider considerations on the relationship between audiences, critics and artists. Regular collaborators Mia Stensgaard and Anja Vang Kragh create the designs.