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Why Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is an opera for our times

Wagner may have written his opera in the 19th century, but its themes of tension between populism and elitism make it strikingly relevant today.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

6 March 2017 at 2.37pm | 1 Comment

'Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is about the tension between the new and old, it's about the tension between populism and elitism', says director Kasper Holten. 'It's about a lot of things that preoccupy us in the world right now'.

Holten's final production at Covent Garden as Director of The Royal Opera sees him find parallels between the hierarchical, tradition-bound ways of the Meistersingers and the antique ritual and pageantry still evident in today’s London. The staging sees him explore the relationship between audiences, critics and artists and the ability to handle change.

'We've set the production in a gentlemen's club, like they only exist in London', says the director as he walks around the set before referencing the outmoded sexual politics of the Meistersingers' world. 'Women are not allowed in this club but one, the daughter of one of the masters, is to be put forward as a prize in a competition for a man to win'.

'As the shock of the new has to be absorbed, their club literally starts to come apart. Will they, in the end, be able to handle change?'

Holten's hotly-anticipated staging of Die Meistersinger will star Bryn Terfel as Hans Sachs and is conducted by Antonio Pappano. The cast and creative team recently took part in a livestreamed Insight event, which is available to watch again in-full on-demand.

Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg runs 11–31 March 2017. Tickets are still available, and more tickets at a range of prices are released each Friday at 1pm for performances in the following week as part of Friday Rush.

The production is a co-production with National Centre for Performing Arts, Beijing, and Opera Australia, and is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Dr Genevieve Davies, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Maggie Copus, Peter and Fiona Espenhahn, Malcolm Herring, The Metherell Family, Die Meistersinger Production Syndicate and the Wagner Circle.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

6 March 2017 at 2.37pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Kasper Holten, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, interview, Kasper Holten, preview, Production, The Royal Opera

This article has 1 comment

  1. William Stockler responded on 20 March 2017 at 1:57pm Reply

    I have no problem with making political points in opera productions. I do however have a serious problem with productions in which the words being sung have no connection with what is happening on the stage. Holten tries to create a kind of "Ariadne auf Naxos", all five hours of it being the prologue, but being sung as if it were the opera proper. This makes no sense. One cannot get involved with the drama when one knows that it is merely a rehearsal.

    I had the same kind of complaint about Frank Castorf's Ring in Bayreuth. You had an oil magnate singing about making the ring out of gold, but there was no gold and no ring, so it became meaningless.

    "Kinder, schafft neues" does not mean "get rid of the drama".

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