Meistersinger to celebrate Hans Hotter’s 90th birthday
Vienna State Opera
Richard Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Wolfgang Brendel (Hans Sachs), Gösta Winbergh (Walther von Stolzing), Emily Magee (Eva), Herwig Pecoraro (David), Margareta Hintermeier (Magdalena), Franz Hawlata (Veit Pogner), Hans-Joachim Ketelsen (Sixtus Beckmesser), John Dickie (Kunz Vogelgesang), Istvan Gati (Konrad Nachtigall), Georg Tichy (Fritz Kothner), Franz Kasemann (Balthasar Zorn), Michael Roider (Ulrich Eißlinger), Peter Jelosits (Augustin Moser), Marcus Pelz (Hermann Ortel), Goran Simic (Hans Schwarz), Rudolf Mazzola (Hans Foltz), Walter Fink (Nightwatchman)
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera, Ernst Dunshirn (Chorus Director)
Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, Simone Young (Conductor)
Otto Schenk (Director), Jürgen Rosen (Set and Costume Designer)
This evening was dedicated to Hans Hotter, one of the great Wagnerian singers of our time, as part of the celebrations marking his 90th birthday. Despite Jürgen Rosen's uninspired sets dating from 1975 - depicting 16th century Nuremberg with half-timbered houses, elder bushes and a "Festwiese" reminiscent of the Munich October festival - the performance was of high standard and proved worthy of this special occasion.
The cast was headed by Wolfgang Brendel who portrayed Hans Sachs as a kindly, fatherly philosopher who helps bring the two lovers together, expressing little of Sachs' ambivalence about his own feelings for Eva. Although there may be shoemakers with larger voices, Brendel sang the role with great beauty and evenness of tone and elegant phrasing. Emily Magee made a strong and vivid impression as Eva and offered fresh radiant singing, with her voice soaring over the orchestra when required. Gösta Winbergh was an ardent Walter von Stolzing and brought plenty of stamina to the role, even if he did not always sound comfortable towards the top of his range.
Hans-Joachim Ketelsen was perfectly in character both vocally and dramatically as Beckmesser, hair slicked back and amusingly pedantic. Herwig Pecoraro turned in an excellent David, both vocally and dramatically. Margareta Hintermeier was a sound Magdalena, Franz Hawlata a sonorous Pogner and Georg Tichy an amusingly pompous Kothner. The other Mastersingers were also well cast.
Some credit must also go to the chorus, directed by Ernst Dunshirn, who produced a truly impressive sound in the general brawl in Act 2 and in "Wachet auf!" in the final act. The Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera played exquisitely for Simone Young who led them dynamically, adroitly pointing the nuances in the score.
Hans Hotter joined the assembled cast and chorus on the "Festwiese" following the performance to receive the Honorary Ring of the City of Vienna. He was given a rousing ovation by all present. A truly memorable occasion.