05 September 2006

A concert performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Given a ticket by Jenny, a lecturer in our department and my supervisor Simon's wife, I had the pleasure to attend one of Wagner's richest operas, a 5-hour-40-minute long concert performance sung in German, which ended the Edinburgh International Festival last Saturday and marked Sir Brian McMaster's stepping down as Director after 15 years.
Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 2 September 2006

David Robertson conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with an impressive cast of soloists and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

The cast really contained a mixture of up-and-coming young singers and established names:

  • Eva: Hillevi Martinpelto, soprano
  • Magdalene: Wendy Dawn Thompson, soprano
  • Walther: Jonas Kaufmann, tenor
  • David: Toby Spence, tenor
  • Sachs: Robert Holl, bass-baritone
  • Beckmesser: Neal Davies, bass
  • Pogner: Matthew Rose, bass
  • Kothner: James Rutherford, bass
  • Nightwatchman: Paul Whelan, bass
Besides, the list of other old masters, including John Shirley-Quirk, Jeffrey Lawton, John Mitchinson and Richard van Allan, really reads like a 'Who's Who' of British singers from the past decades, some of whom even have come out of retirement for this special concert. McMaster described this as his near-as-possible dream cast for the opera.

Probably because the musical content of Wagner's opera is usually constructed on symphonic principles which continuously develop many themes, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was decently appropriate for performance in the concert hall. Though without extravagant sets, props and costumes, the emotional facial expressions, vivid gestures and body language made by the soloists could still be clearly read by the audience. The interactions between leading characters, particularly Sachs, Beckmesser, Walther and David, were no fewer, no less explicit than a real staged opera.

Edinburgh Festival Chorus was also stunning. The choral piece at the beginning accompanied by the organ and the one that concluded Act III, sung together with the whole cast for the outdoor song competition, were particularly impressive.

In addition to the concert itself, another unforgettable experience is joining the audience picnicking on the pavement outside the concert hall. As the performance last nearly six hours beginning at 5.00 pm, most people brought their own meal boxes, bottles or simply grabbed some drinks from the lounge bar in the hall and gave themselves a good feed during the two half-hour intervals between each acts.

Unlike those elderly ladies and gentlemen, who were seated elegantly on the pavement benches and had their home made sandwiches with glasses of wine, I stuffed myself with a huge chocolate bar and dashed into a pub having a quick pint before the bell rang to call us back into the hall.

Thank you Jenny. You would probably never know how much I owe you; it was absolutely a fantastic night.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

學長,很久沒在線上遇到你了,一直沒機會當面評論一下...。

自我介紹的"Hi Wei"有點冷,但還不錯啦!這樣的開場白,呵~。

內容很精采,有閱讀native english speaker的水準,不過生字多了些,哈~。