Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!
August 27, 2009
* Notes *
Katharina Wagner's production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuther Festspiele is simply dumbfounding. From the very beginning it was clear that the person behind the absurd staging was exceedingly detail-oriented and highly neurotic. The concept seemed well thought out and read clearly, and better yet was carried through to the end. The joyousness of the riot at the end of Act II was particularly wonderful. There were shoes falling from the sky; enormous soup cans full of paint; dancing statues of Wagner, Dürer, and others; not to mention plenty of obsessive cleaning.
Sebastian Weigle kept the orchestra moving, though just the slightest bit lax, the playing was still lovely. The chorus, directed by Eberhard Friedrich was entirely committed to both the music and the choreography.
For the most part the singing was perfectly fine, though overall somewhat quiet. Carola Guber was able to convey a certain shrewish annoying quality as Magdalene. Norbert Ernst (David) was pleasantly neurotic, and his pianissimo is appealing. Michaela Kaune could be petulant as Eva, but her singing in the ensemble at the end of Act III Scene 4 was charming. Adrian Eröd amused as Beckmesser, he had a great deal of strain at times in the beginning, but he was a good foil for Klaus Florian Vogt (Walther). Vogt sang with great beauty, sweetness, volume, and effortlessness. On the other hand was our Hans Sachs, Alan Titus, who acted well but lacked both ease and a rich, full tone.
* Tattling *
A German man in Row 4 Seat 8 on the right side of the Parkett spoke during the music of Act I, and both my companion and I turned around at exactly the same time to give him a stern look. He only spoke once more audibly, when he could not read "Beck in Town" on Beckmesser's t-shirt in Act III. He did press against my companion's seat, and she quite naughtily fondled his knee, which was effective in getting him to stop. The May/December couple in Row 2 Seats 11 and 12 also whispered a good deal, and blocked the view of the woman to my left with their constant movement. The May half of the pair accidentally grabbed my foot when she was trying to adjust her seat cushion.
There was much laughter and murmuring from the audience. I, for one, nearly had a break-down trying to keep my hysterical giggling under control. There were scattered boos at the ends of Act II and III, and very hearty booing for Katharina when she came out for her curtain call.