The per­fect opera, de­spite every­thing

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - STEPHEN POL­LARD

Die Meistersinger von Nurn­berg Royal Opera House ★★★✩✩

MY ONLY reser­va­tion about declar­ing Act 2 of Die Meistersinger

von Nurn­berg as the most per­fect hour of opera ever writ­ten is there are two other acts. But for me it is so per­fect in ev­ery way that it’s damn near in­de­struc­tible. A bad per­for­mance is still bet­ter than no per­for­mance.

That said, Kas­par Holten’s far­well pro­duc­tion does its best to prove me wrong. Set in a gen­tle­men’s club, the idea is marginally in­ter­est­ing for 10 min­utes but then be­comes ru­inously stupid, re­mov­ing all mean­ing from the li­bretto. “It’s such a balmy evening,” sings Eva — deep in the bow­els of a cen­tral Lon­don club.

But if you refuse to al­low the stag­ing to dis­tract from the mu­sic, the Royal Opera House’s new pro­duc­tion has its charms. An­to­nio Pap­pano’s ac­count gives a lyri­cism and deft­ness to the score that so many con­duc­tors lose sight of.

The singing is mixed. Sir Bryn Ter­fel’s Hans Sachs is on au­topi­lot (per­haps be­cause of the lu­di­crous stage di­rec­tion) and Eva is best for­got­ten. But Jo­hannes Martin Kran­zle’s Beckmesser is world class, and Gwyn Hughes Jones is a truly mag­nif­i­cent Walther.

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