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Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg, Hamburg, 1 June 2009

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These paintings were made from the stalls of the Hamburg Staatsoper. John Trelevan sang Walther von Stolzing, Alan Titus sang Hans Sachs and it was Harald Stamm's last performance (singing Veit Pogner) after 35 years at the Hamburg opera.
In the middle of Hans Sach's ode to Deutschland in Act 3 there was a silence and from the podium on which all the jurors sat, one of the 'jury' called out  'Just listen to yourself Hans Sachs, what are you singing? Do you really mean that?"
'Yes, of course I know what I am singing,' said Sachs.
The juror retorted, 'It is just so much National Socialist rubbish!'
The 'jury' was then caught up in a loud verbal (not sung) argument:
'Well, we can change the words!',
'Oh no, we can't do that to Wagner's libretto', etc etc.

Finally a voice boomed over the top "Gentlemen, could we please sing the opera to the end now?"
The orchestra started playing again, Sachs finished his song and the opera came to an end.
I thought to myself that this could only happen in Germany where so many people find Wagner's fixation with German culture embarrassing. I thought it very well produced, argument and all. Depth was added to the discussion by having the chorus dressed as characters from Wagner's other operas in a fairyland type setting.

I could have sat and listened for hours. Well, I did sit and listen for hours, but it felt like 20 minutes.


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