Author Topic: "Meistersinger" on DvD  (Read 7128 times)

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Haffner

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"Meistersinger" on DvD
« on: March 23, 2008, 03:26:17 PM »
This will be my first seeing this opera, and I'm wondering if I should just go with the Stein/Bayreuth, as I really love the Parsifal from that combination, Then again, I happen to be a fan of James Morris. I'm looking for a basic, traditional production. Is there a dvd I should get first?

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2008, 07:31:51 PM »
This will be my first seeing this opera, and I'm wondering if I should just go with the Stein/Bayreuth, as I really love the Parsifal from that combination, Then again, I happen to be a fan of James Morris. I'm looking for a basic, traditional production. Is there a dvd I should get first?

The Met DVD will give you a basic, traditional production, albeit one under the somewhat heavy hand of Mr. Levine. I have not seen the Stein, but be aware if you get it that a bit of stage business at the end - the reconciliation between Sachs and Beckmesser - is not in Wagner's scenario, This directorial touch by Wolfgang Wagner is plainly intended to soften the most unpleasant aspect of the opera, the cruel way in which Beckmesser is humiliated by the entire town in the final scene.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2008, 02:39:08 AM »
The Met DVD will give you a basic, traditional production, albeit one under the somewhat heavy hand of Mr. Levine. I have not seen the Stein, but be aware if you get it that a bit of stage business at the end - the reconciliation between Sachs and Beckmesser - is not in Wagner's scenario, This directorial touch by Wolfgang Wagner is plainly intended to soften the most unpleasant aspect of the opera, the cruel way in which Beckmesser is humiliated by the entire town in the final scene.

  I have the DVD recording at the MET with Mr. Levine and I love it- that production is so "rich" and "creamy" it is marvelous!! 

  Now on to more pressing issues, I am surprised to read about this directorial touch by Wolfgang Wagner! How dare he defy R. Wagner's intent to humiliate Beckmesser- that's a very big part of what this opera is all about. It is Wagner's attempt to strike back at all the critics, especially Hanslick who have taken the liberty to publicly criticize and disapprove of his artwork.  Thank God that Levine had enough sense to understand this and stick to Wagner's libretto verbatim.

  marvin
« Last Edit: March 27, 2008, 02:40:42 AM by marvinbrown »

Offline Anne

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2008, 04:08:48 PM »
  I have the DVD recording at the MET with Mr. Levine and I love it- that production is so "rich" and "creamy" it is marvelous!! 

  Now on to more pressing issues, I am surprised to read about this directorial touch by Wolfgang Wagner! How dare he defy R. Wagner's intent to humiliate Beckmesser- that's a very big part of what this opera is all about. It is Wagner's attempt to strike back at all the critics, especially Hanslick who have taken the liberty to publicly criticize and disapprove of his artwork.  Thank God that Levine had enough sense to understand this and stick to Wagner's libretto verbatim.

  marvin

This is a difficult thing to say but if you substitute "a jew" for Beckmesser, you begin to get the drift of Wagner's intent.  Not so pretty.  Personally, I choose to ignore this.  This is Wagner's problem, not mine.

uffeviking

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2008, 07:30:35 PM »
Dear Anne, if you would read marvinbrown's post carefully, you would get the correct meaning Wagner put to Beckmesser. It has nothing to do with 'jew', it's all about critics. Let's not start that Wagner harassment all over again!

Thank you!

Haffner

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2008, 02:07:19 AM »
Anyone know if this is a good Meistersinger DVD?

uffeviking

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2008, 05:41:56 AM »
Andy, I can't read the names of the cast, orchestra, conductor, etc. The cover photo looks familiar, but I don't have it in my collection.  :-\

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2008, 05:50:33 AM »
Dear Anne, if you would read marvinbrown's post carefully, you would get the correct meaning Wagner put to Beckmesser. It has nothing to do with 'jew', it's all about critics. Let's not start that Wagner harassment all over again!

Thank you!

Dear uffeviking,

Whether Beckmesser represents a Jew is by no means an open-and-shut case. Literally of course he does not, but neither does he literally represent Edward Hanslick or any other critic. (Yes, Wagner originally called Beckmesser "Hans Lich," but what is more important is that he eventually changed that name, thus steering away from a direct identification.)

What is clear about the denouement of Die Meistersinger is that the story as Wagner conceived it requires Beckmesser - the town clerk of Nürnberg, the rule-besotted and finicky pedant, the would-be wooer who stands not a chance of winning the girl - to be ridiculed and humiliated by the entire town before the handsome young knight Walther steps in to save the day, win the girl, and (benefiting from the guidance of the wise cobbler-poet Hans Sachs) sing the song the unites the entire town in a Utopian vision of a community brought together by the power of music. The point regarding Beckmesser, however, is that in order to achieve this Utopia, the least desirable member of the community must be expunged.

One does not have to interpret Beckmesser as a Jew to be disturbed by the way this character is handled in the last scene of the opera. Wagner must have thought the final treatment of Beckmesser to be hilarious, but it just ain't funny on any level, and it sounds a false note in what is otherwise a supremely humane work. Wolfgang Wagner, one senses, must have also been disturbed by this ending and so invented this bit of stage business to subvert and soften Beckmesser's final humiliation. But by doing so, he changed the story as Wagner conceived it in a fundamental way.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline BachQ

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2008, 06:45:05 AM »
Andy, I can't read

Fret not ....... we're here for you ........

uffeviking

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2008, 07:09:47 AM »
Wheeeew! What a relief do have friends like Dm:-*

Now would you please let me have your magnifying glass so I can make out the tiny print on Haffner's DVD cover?  ???

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2008, 07:16:10 AM »
Wheeeew! What a relief do have friends like Dm:-*

Now would you please let me have your magnifying glass so I can make out the tiny print on Haffner's DVD cover?  ???

Ever heard of Amazon.com?
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Haffner

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2008, 08:23:57 AM »
Ever heard of Amazon.com?


That one isn't on Amazon. That is why I asked about it here. It is a recording made in Berlin, conducted by Fruhbeck de Burgos.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2008, 08:35:43 AM »
Dear uffeviking,

Whether Beckmesser represents a Jew is by no means an open-and-shut case. Literally of course he does not, but neither does he literally represent Edward Hanslick or any other critic. (Yes, Wagner originally called Beckmesser "Hans Lich," but what is more important is that he eventually changed that name, thus steering away from a direct identification.)

What is clear about the denouement of Die Meistersinger is that the story as Wagner conceived it requires Beckmesser - the town clerk of Nürnberg, the rule-besotted and finicky pedant, the would-be wooer who stands not a chance of winning the girl - to be ridiculed and humiliated by the entire town before the handsome young knight Walther steps in to save the day, win the girl, and (benefiting from the guidance of the wise cobbler-poet Hans Sachs) sing the song the unites the entire town in a Utopian vision of a community brought together by the power of music. The point regarding Beckmesser, however, is that in order to achieve this Utopia, the least desirable member of the community must be expunged.

One does not have to interpret Beckmesser as a Jew to be disturbed by the way this character is handled in the last scene of the opera. Wagner must have thought the final treatment of Beckmesser to be hilarious, but it just ain't funny on any level, and it sounds a false note in what is otherwise a supremely humane work. Wolfgang Wagner, one senses, must have also been disturbed by this ending and so invented this bit of stage business to subvert and soften Beckmesser's final humiliation. But by doing so, he changed the story as Wagner conceived it in a fundamental way.

Good piece.

I want to add that I don't think Wolfgang Wagner was only just 'disturbed' by this ending - he knows the criticism that has been levelled at Wagner's 'scapegoating' of Beckmesser (think especially of Adorno's very influential Wagner study). Whether WW should have 'resolved' his grandfather's 'false note' is a moot point. Political correctness in Bayreuth?...
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2008, 08:43:00 AM »
Dear uffeviking,

Whether Beckmesser represents a Jew is by no means an open-and-shut case. Literally of course he does not, but neither does he literally represent Edward Hanslick or any other critic. (Yes, Wagner originally called Beckmesser "Hans Lich," but what is more important is that he eventually changed that name, thus steering away from a direct identification.)

What is clear about the denouement of Die Meistersinger is that the story as Wagner conceived it requires Beckmesser - the town clerk of Nürnberg, the rule-besotted and finicky pedant, the would-be wooer who stands not a chance of winning the girl - to be ridiculed and humiliated by the entire town before the handsome young knight Walther steps in to save the day, win the girl, and (benefiting from the guidance of the wise cobbler-poet Hans Sachs) sing the song the unites the entire town in a Utopian vision of a community brought together by the power of music. The point regarding Beckmesser, however, is that in order to achieve this Utopia, the least desirable member of the community must be expunged.

One does not have to interpret Beckmesser as a Jew to be disturbed by the way this character is handled in the last scene of the opera. Wagner must have thought the final treatment of Beckmesser to be hilarious, but it just ain't funny on any level, and it sounds a false note in what is otherwise a supremely humane work. Wolfgang Wagner, one senses, must have also been disturbed by this ending and so invented this bit of stage business to subvert and soften Beckmesser's final humiliation. But by doing so, he changed the story as Wagner conceived it in a fundamental way.

  I do not know how to respond to this, only to say that if you are worried about antisemitic, racist etc. contents of Die Meistersinger you had better start editing the following works of art for the following reasons:

   J.S. Bach- St. Matthew Passion (antisemitic)
   R. Strauss- Salome (antisemitic)
   Rigoletto- (sexist- what a terrible opera this is, Gilda gets seduced, cast aside and eventually murdered)
   Cosi Fan Tutte- (sexist)
   Madam Butterfly- If I were American I'd be insulted by this opera, and if I were Asian worst yet.

  My point is that no one can really tell what Wagner's true intentions were for the mockery of Beckmesser.  But if I were going to take this opera on face value I'd say that it was a direct response to the critics who attacked Wagner (Hanslick was not Jewish after all but raised Christian) and knowing Wagner's bad temper I wouldn't put it past him to lash out at those who criticized him- remember this guy was an egomaniac. I'd like to think that his artwork is clean- and I feel that it is cleaner than those pieces listed above, Rigoletto notwithstanding its beautiful music always leaves a "bitter taste in my mouth."  

  marvin
  
« Last Edit: March 28, 2008, 09:04:07 AM by marvinbrown »

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2008, 09:41:39 AM »

That one isn't on Amazon. That is why I asked about it here. It is a recording made in Berlin, conducted by Fruhbeck de Burgos.

It is on amazon:  link

I checked it out of the library some time ago.  Don't remember it well, beyond that  I thought it was pretty good, but I preferred the Met version.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2008, 10:42:17 AM »
 I do not know how to respond to this, only to say that if you are worried about antisemitic, racist etc. contents of Die Meistersinger you had better start editing the following works of art for the following reasons:

   J.S. Bach- St. Matthew Passion (antisemitic)
   R. Strauss- Salome (antisemitic)
   Rigoletto- (sexist- what a terrible opera this is, Gilda gets seduced, cast aside and eventually murdered)
   Cosi Fan Tutte- (sexist)
   Madam Butterfly- If I were American I'd be insulted by this opera, and if I were Asian worst yet.

  My point is that no one can really tell what Wagner's true intentions were for the mockery of Beckmesser.

Doesn't matter. Wagner's intentions died with him when he keeled over of a heart attack in Venice in 1883. What matters is the work Wagner created. And of course there are other operas, plays, stories, what have you, that reveal sexist or racist overtones and undertones. I can add dozens more with little effort. That's not quite the point. Each piece has to be considered on its own terms (from what I've read, Asians aren't particularly disturbed by Mme. Butterfly because they recognize she's just one of Puccini's typical Italian lachrymose heroines in a kimono).

The point is that, unlike most of your other examples, Wagner was writing a comedy in which the denouement of the story is plainly to show a community united by the power of music. Yet despite himself, he subverts his own ends by treating his villain in a way that is sufficiently harsh to interfere with the comic tone, and which undermines the spirit of reconciliation the story otherwise leads to at the end.

There are a number of standard comic topoi in Die Meistersinger - the young lovers separated by circumstances who are eventually united in marriage, the old fool who thinks himself able to win the young girl, the fool who makes an ass of himself and must eventually be shown the error of his ways (both of the latter combined in the Beckmesser story), and part of the dramatist's task is how well to achieve the spirit of comedy if it involves discomfiting the buffon or villain of the story. For instance, think how much more gently Shakespeare* treats Malvolio, another self-deluded fool, at the close of Twelfth Night:

Quote
OLIVIA (to MALVOLIO) Alas, poor fool, how have they baffled thee!

FESTE Why, 'some are born great, some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrown upon them.' I was
one, sir, in this interlude; one Sir Topas, sir; but
that's all one. 'By the Lord, fool, I am not mad.'
But do you remember? 'Madam, why laugh you at such
a barren rascal? an you smile not, he's gagged:'
and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.

MALVOLIO I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you. (Exit)

OLIVIA He hath been most notoriously abused.

DUKE ORSINO Pursue him and entreat him to a peace.

Wolfgang Wagner seems to have adapted something like this scenario in his staging of Meistersinger, with Sachs taking on the parts of Olivia and Orsino. But it's not Wagner's scenario. In Wagner, once Beckmesser is satisfactorily drummed out of town, the otherwise humane Sachs shows no interest in extending any benignity towards him.

--
* And no, I'm not forgetting The Merchant of Venice, a more complicated case to get into.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2008, 10:45:38 AM by Sforzando »
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Offline marvinbrown

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2008, 02:52:51 PM »


The point is that, unlike most of your other examples, Wagner was writing a comedy in which the denouement of the story is plainly to show a community united by the power of music. Yet despite himself, he subverts his own ends by treating his villain in a way that is sufficiently harsh to interfere with the comic tone, and which undermines the spirit of reconciliation the story otherwise leads to at the end.


 



  I go back to my original argument- I want to and I have every right to see Wagner's operas the way he conceived them. We all do! We should be the judges of whether they are racist or not or whether the ending is appropriate or not! To have a director like Wolfgang Wagner, who from what I have read has fallen out with the Wagner clan, change the ending in the way that he did is to impose his point of view (and it is nothing more than a point of view)  on me and us- disgraceful!   I'm sorry but I can not help but feel this way. I have always been against censorship- and what WW did is censorship!  It's even worst, he passed his own judgement on that opera and then sought to correct it in the way he saw fit. Some people have a lot of nerve wouldn't you agree??

   
  marvin 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2008, 03:18:53 PM by marvinbrown »

Haffner

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2008, 03:29:46 PM »

  I go back to my original argument- I want to and I have every right to see Wagner's operas the way he conceived them. We all do! We should be the judges of whether they are racist or not or whether the ending is appropriate or not! To have a director like Wolfgang Wagner, who from what I have read has fallen out with the Wagner clan, change the ending in the way that he did is to impose his point of view (and it is nothing more than a point of view)  on me and us- disgraceful!   I'm sorry but I can not help but feel this way. I have always been against censorship- and what WW did is censorship!  It's even worst, he passed his own judgement on that opera and then sought to correct it in the way he saw fit. Some people have a lot of nerve wouldn't you agree??

   
  marvin 


At this point, I'm pretty diehard myself. Still have no interest in the Barenboim or Boulez Ring dvds, for example. Or the abomination that Wagner's great granddaughter was part of recently in Bayreuth I believe.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2008, 05:12:55 PM »

  I go back to my original argument- I want to and I have every right to see Wagner's operas the way he conceived them. We all do! We should be the judges of whether they are racist or not or whether the ending is appropriate or not! To have a director like Wolfgang Wagner, who from what I have read has fallen out with the Wagner clan, change the ending in the way that he did is to impose his point of view (and it is nothing more than a point of view)  on me and us- disgraceful!   I'm sorry but I can not help but feel this way. I have always been against censorship- and what WW did is censorship!  It's even worst, he passed his own judgement on that opera and then sought to correct it in the way he saw fit. Some people have a lot of nerve wouldn't you agree??

   
  marvin 

But I did not defend Wolfgang Wagner. I simply pointed out why (apparently) he has and (definitely) I have a problem with the ending. I did not, nor would I, ever suggest that the ending should be changed on that account, and if you read through all my posts on the subject again, you'll see no grounds for such an inference. I want my Wagner as he wrought, warts and all.
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Offline GanChan

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Re: "Meistersinger" on DvD
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2008, 10:48:14 PM »
Anyone know if this is a good Meistersinger DVD?

Yes, it is a very good performance, but not completely traditional -- I believe it was updated to the 19th century, though it was managed subtly enough that I barely noticed. The Met production is more completely traditional, so it's probably a safer choice. Performance-wise, I liked them both about equally.

 

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