The Mastersingers of Nuremberg - Philippe Jordan - Bayreuth Festival 2021

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PreviousMay 1970

Philippe Jordan - Conductor

The Master 's of Nuremberg - Philippe Jordan - Bayreuth Festival 2019
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Nuremberg, middle of the 16th century.


The Franconian knight Walther von Stolzing is guest of the rich goldsmith Veit Pogner. He was the last of his family to leave the castle and came to Nuremberg to get the citizenship right here. At the service in the Katharinenkirche he sees Pogners daughter Eva and is bewitched by her. He learns from her nurse Magdalena that her father had appointed her to the bride who was to receive the prize the following day in the public contest of the master. When Eva shows that she wants to hear him or none, he lets David, the teacher of Hans Sachs, explain the nature and activities of the Mastersingers and their complicated rules, while the other teachers prepare the church for the guilding of the master craftsmen. Walther is determined to win the prize and asks Pogner to take him into the guild, which is received with suspicion by the concurrent gallant Stadtwasser Beckmesser, a competitor for Eva's hand.

After the arrival of all the Masters, Pogner takes the floor and declares to the present his decision to give his only child to the victor in the contest for marriage ("Das schöne Fest Johannistag"). Hans Sachs expressed concern, but is content with the fact that Eva should have the right to reject the winner; but then she would have to remain single. Walther is presented to the masters as a new candidate, who explains to the dubious citizens that they have learned singing through the books of Walther von der Vogelweide and in nature by the birds ("Am stillen Herd").

He must sing a proverbial, which Beckmesser is to judge as the stern "merker," by recording every mistake with chalk on a blackboard. After Fritz Kothner once again explained the rules of "tabulature," Walther sings a radiant song of love and Lenz ("Fanget," cried the Lenz in the Forest), which Beckmesser disturbed by continual scratching with the chalk is completely misunderstood by the masters because of its novelty - he has "transfigured and transposed." While the masters excitedly leave the church, Hans Sachs remains meaningfully behind - he feels that this is a misjudgment from the incomprehension of the Mastersingers who believe in the rigid rules.


On the street in front of the houses of Pogners and Sachsens, the apprentices dance in the evening. David tells his friend Magdalena of the knight's failure, secretly whispering to Eva, who has just returned home with her father. Pogner explained to his daughter the importance of tomorrow's call. But she is absent-minded, and draws the father quickly into the house in spite of the beautiful, mild evening. Hans Sachs has put his work table outside, but the summer evening and the thoughts of the experience do not let him go ("What smells the lilac"). It has grown dark, Eva sneaks out of the house and wants to ask Sachs about the performance of the knight at the Probesingen. Through skillful answers and questions Sachs learns from Eva's love for Walther. Certainly he, the widower, has sometimes thought of getting Eve himself, but now he wants to help the loved ones, which he does not yet notice to Eve. When he tells her of Walthers failure, she leaves him disappointed. When Magdalena tells her that Beckmesser wants to bring her a serenade, she exchanges her clothes with her so that Magdalena receives for her the annoying serenade.

Walther, who does not believe in his success after his failure at the trial, hastened to persuade Eve to escape, which is prevented by Hans Sachs, who is overheard, from falling into the street of his house leaves. Beckmesser appears just now to bring his serenade. The lovers hide in the shadow of a lime tree and become witnesses of a strange game: Sachs has moved his workplace back to the house and disturbs the singing of the amorous Beckmesser by a song ("Jerum, jerum, hallo, hello, in which the evil Eve in Paradise is mentioned, in which, therefore, Eva, who has therefore entered, feels under the linden tree to recognize herself. Beckmesser is furious at the disturbance of his serenade, which he, quite wrongly, suspects a wickedness of the shoemaker. After a brief argument, they agreed that Sachs would play the "merker" and mark the flaws in the song of Beckmessers by hammering on the shoes he was working on. The troubled city writer often violates the rules of tabulature, so that Sachs at the end of the song with the shoes - Beckmessers own - have completely finished. The neighbors were awakened by the noise. David recognizes his Magdalena at the window of Pogner's house and falls furiously at the supposed rival Beckmesser. A general fight is soon developed, in the course of which Eve disappears in her house and the knight Walther von Sachs is taken to his house. The horn of the night watchman ends the ghostly scene, soon the moonlit street is again peaceful and deserted.


Hans Sachs sits in his workshop at the sunny Johannismorgen, and kindly receives the namesday wishes of his apprentices, David, who are still contrite because of the nighttime fighting. He sinks into deep senses about the human weaknesses ("delusion, delusion, everywhere delusion"). After a short rest, Walther von Stolzing comes into the room and tells Sachs of a beautiful dream, which he sets in verse, according to the rules of art, at the instigation of the master. This is to be a masterpiece for the competition. The enthusiastic Sachs writes the poem.

When the shoemaker directed Walther out of the room, the completely battered, beaten, limping Beckmesser appears, stealing from the table the poem which he held in a blind rage for a Werbelied of Hans Sachs. When the shoemaker comes back into the room, Beckmesser, after his initial, hypocritical kindness, blurs him with bitter reproaches, but at the same time has to admit that he has imprisoned the poem. When Sachs assured him not to compete, and even gave him the poem "so that he is not a thief," Beckmesser's unsteady feeling changes into exaggerated friendliness. He wants to quickly go home to learn it.

Formally dressed is Eva, plagued by feelings of guilt against the understanding Sachs. But this one now directs her to Walther, who inspired Eve's beautiful sight to the last verse of his master's song. Eva confesses to Hans Sachs her sincere affection. He understands how to hide his inner movement behind ironic words. Magdalena and David enter and learn from Sachs the birth of a new mastery; the "morning deception" is to be called. David is beaten by a whisper. Everyone is seized and moved (Quintet "Blessed as the Sun").

At the Festwiese on the Pegnitz, the delegation of the guilds entered a solemn march. Hans Sachs is cheered by the people (chorus "Silentium! ... Wake up!"). In a solemn address he points to the meaning of the contest ("You make it easy"). Then the candidates are called. Beckmesser has misunderstood the poem and is so distorted that the assembled people laugh at him and mock him. He furiously calls Hans Sachs the author of the nonsensical verses, but the latter reproaches the accusation and asserts that the song is beautiful when it is only sung properly. As witnesses, he calls the true poet of the verses: Walther von Stolzing now enters the circle and presents the song as a hymn to Eve with the utmost perfection ("dawning brightly in rosy glow").

Under the applause of the crowd, Pogner now wants to take him into the Master's Guild, but Walther has not completely wounded the rejection of yesterday's day and wants to reject the Reverence. Without a master's dignity, he alone will be saved with Eve. Sachs intersperses with this, and in front of Walther insists that the importance of mastery for German art ("Do not despise the masters"). Everyone is celebrating Hans Sachs and his wisdom ("Honor your German masters").




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Program and cast

Conductor: Philippe Jordan
Director: Barrie Kosky
Stage design: Rebecca Ringst
Costumes: Klaus Bruns
Dramaturgy: Ulrich Lenz
Lighting: Franck Evin

Hans Sachs, shoemaker :Michael Volle
Veit Pogner, goldsmith: Georg Zeppenfeld
Kunz Birdsong, furrier: Tanzel Akzeybek
Konrad Nachtigal, plumber: Armin Kolarczyk
Sixtus Beckmesser, town clerk: Johannes Martin Kränzle
Fritz Kothner, Baker: Werner Van Mechelen
Balthasar Zorn, tin caster: Martin Homrich
Ulrich Eisslinger, Würzkrämer: Christopher Kaplan
Augustin Moser, tailor: Ric Furman
Hermann Ortel, soap boiler: Raimund Nolte
Hans Schwarz, stocking maker: Andreas Hörl
Hans Foltz, coppersmith: Timo Riihonen
Walther von Stolzing: Klaus Florian Vogt
David, Saxony's textbook: Daniel Behle
Eva, Pogner's daughter: Camilla Nylund
Magdalene, Eva's nurse: Wiebke Mudflour
A night watchman Wilhelm: Schwinghammer

Bayreuth Festival

The Bayreuth Festival (German: Bayreuther Festspiele) is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.

Performances take place in a specially designed theatre, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Wagner personally supervised the design and construction of the theatre, which contained many architectural innovations to accommodate the huge orchestras for which Wagner wrote as well as the composer's particular vision about the staging of his works. The Festival has become a pilgrimage destination for Wagner enthusiasts, who often must wait years to obtain tickets.

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