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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional production of delicate musicality
It's tempting to make a snap judgement about a production of a Wagner opera right from the first note, and it's surprising just how accurate that judgement can often turn out to be. I'd suggest that you can get a feel for the tone of the whole 2011 Glyndebourne production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg just from Vladimir Jurowski's conducting of the London...
Published 19 months ago by Keris Nine

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed thoughts
I loved the staging and the production. I was, however, disappointed in some of the singers' performances. Johannes Martin Kraenzle's performance of Beckmesser and Anna Gabler's performance of Eva were both outstanding and well-worth buying this edition.
Published 4 months ago by John


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional production of delicate musicality, 2 Sep 2012
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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It's tempting to make a snap judgement about a production of a Wagner opera right from the first note, and it's surprising just how accurate that judgement can often turn out to be. I'd suggest that you can get a feel for the tone of the whole 2011 Glyndebourne production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg just from Vladimir Jurowski's conducting of the London Philharmonic Orchestra through the opera's beautiful overture. Being Wagner, everything is there upfront in the Vorspiel to Act I, and in such a work with its richness of meaning and infinite ways of interpretation, you could aim for an approach that is respectful and serious, emphatic and declamatory, sensitive and romantic, even playful and irreverent and you would still be touching on vital ingredients that are all part of the make-up of Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg. You might well pick up elements of those qualities in this Glyndebourne production - and by rights they should all be in there - but from the very first note my overriding impression was that there was a particularly English touch to the delivery that emphasises the qualities in this remarkable work that one doesn't find so readily in the composer's other grand music dramas - a lightness, a warmth, a sense of humour and an air of melancholy, the tug of deep human emotions bound up in something great and beautiful.

This is a light, delicate and sensitive treatment of a beautifully balanced, thoughtful and considered work then, a far cry from the most recent Bayreuth production. I don't always like the odd touches that David McVicar adds to his productions and I often find him weak on a cohesive concept, but I can rarely fault him on his ability to hit on the perfect mood and find the most effective way of expressing it through the performers and in their relationship with all the other aspects of the production and musical performance. His work for this Glyndebourne production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg is just about flawless. It's perhaps a little unadventurous - setting the work within the years of Wagner's apprenticeship around 1820 rather than the original 16th century setting - but his handling of the diverse moods and rhythms of the work is masterful throughout, taking in the wide range of emotions and tones that has Hans Sachs at its heart, from melancholy to slapstick, without ever missing a beat or hitting an incongruous note that isn't suggested by the score.

Everything about the production respects this, having a cohesiveness in the period design, in the enclosed sacred locations - the church as much as the craftsman's workshop or the community square - in the lighting, in the little touches of humour and irreverence. There's also a recognition that everything important that needs to be expressed is there in the music itself, within the very structure of Wagner's composition which is the very definition of his views on the strength and power of the music-drama, the two aspects conjoined and inseparable, each supporting the other to create a rhythm and balance between the surface drama and the inner nature, with all the contradictions and complexity that this implies. It's enough to give the work room to breathe and allow the performers of the music and the singing to consider the detail, interpret it and express it through their individual strengths of personality. There's never a moment where you are waiting to get to the next more interesting scene, every moment has its own magic and Jurowski and McVicar give the singers all the opportunity they need to luxuriate in the beauty and the rich wonder of Wagner's incredible score, revealing it in all its majestic glory.

Gerald Finley's performance of Hans Sachs is the best example of this. Never have I ever seen Finley look so at home in a role, his lovely baritone sounding warm, rounded and unforced, not over-expressive, but arising naturally out of consideration for his character, rolling around the beauty and the very sound of the words, taking the time to consider their meaning and luxuriate in their phrasing. But it's far from the only impressive singing performance, the clear lyrical lightness of Marco Jentzsch's Walther and Topi Lehpituu's David both perfect foils for Anna Gabler's emotional Eva and Michaela Selinger's Lena. If their singing could be considered to lack traditional Wagnerian force, the work gains from their youthful sincerity of feeling. On the other side of the coin, but perfectly complementary, Alastair Miles displays a studious good natured gravity and solemnity as Pogner with a tone that is as beautiful as it is expressive. You could listen to this for hours. Beckmesser's comic value is easy to overplay and demonise and the role consequently has a tendency to be underrated in comparison to the earnestness of the other characters, but he's no less a vital component to the overall structure and tone and Johannes Martin Kränzle brings colour and personality to the role, with lots of comic grimacing, slapstick and double-takes, all of which fit in perfectly with the tone presented here.

This is as memorable as Meistersinger as any you'll find, one that capitalises on the intimacy of the Glyndebourne theatre and finds an appropriate tone in the performance, the staging and the singing to delve more deeply into the particular human qualities that are unique to this Wagner music-drama, expressing everything that is great about this work on levels I've never considered before. The Glyndebourne effect and the challenges of staging Wagner there is explored in the concise extra features, in interviews with Jurowski, McVicar and Finley, with particular consideration on the approach taken for this work. The Glyndebourne relationship with Wagner is also covered in the accompanying booklet, which also contains a full synopsis. The quality of the Opus Arte Blu-ray production is exemplary in every respect, from the screen direction by François Roussillon, to the well-lit High Definition image and the lovely detail revealed in the HD audio mixes. The 2-disc BD is of course compatible for all regions, but includes only English, French and German subtitles.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Meistersinger, 6 Dec 2012
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Having seen this splendid production at Glyndebourne I wanted a record of my visit. It is a different experience entirely to see Wagner played in the more intimate space of Glyndebourne rather than in a large opera house. It does not exactly transform 'Meistersinger' into a chamber opera but it does put this grandest of operas into a more human context.
The performance does not present a starry international cast but the total impression is of a production thoroughly worked-out and convincing. David McVicar has eschewed his more eccentric tendencies and produced a timeless, if slightly updated, vision of the work. Gerard Finley, a younger Sachs than we are used to, sings beatifically and makes Eva's attraction to him more believable than is usually the case. Glyndebourne's generous rehearsal schedule really shows in this performance that runs like clockwork but is not without soul. The semi-permanent set looks rock solid and works well, except for the street scene of Act II, where the permanent Gothic arches make the houses look as though they are built under a viaduct and the space is restricted for the riot episode.
I have noticed on many Blu-ray recordings that the lighting seems harsher than it does in the theatre but one gets used to this after a few minutes. I'm pleased to report that there is a complete lack of 'tonsil shots', where as so often on opera recordings, the camera produces too many extreme close-ups. Opera singers were never meant to be seen four inches from their face while singing. The surround sound, of course, is excellent and the theatre experience is wonderfully recreated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Une référence, 10 Feb 2013
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D'une qualité visuelle formidable. Un son excellent comme les chanteurs et le chef. La mise en scène est toutefois conventionnell
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 1 Dec 2012
By 
Mark-Eran Molker (Cape Town, South Africa) - See all my reviews
This is a great production.Gerald Finley is the best Sachs offering a warm, nuanced and however powerful baritone voice.His acting is outstanding and comes out beautifully in an excellent, clear blu-ray picture.
I have got all recorded versions of Die Meistersinger and this is my preferred one : For the greatest work of Art, a great Glyndebourne achievement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed thoughts, 25 Nov 2013
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I loved the staging and the production. I was, however, disappointed in some of the singers' performances. Johannes Martin Kraenzle's performance of Beckmesser and Anna Gabler's performance of Eva were both outstanding and well-worth buying this edition.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tongue tied Walther., 1 Nov 2013
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Without a moments hesitation, one finds oneself in total agreement with all that has been written by previous reviewers. Why therefore, have I chosen to give this fine performance & interpretation of the Meistersinger von Nurnberg only four stars. It all rests on the unfortunate performance of one Marco Jentzsch, from the very outset of him opening his mouth, I found myself squirming uncomfortably & looking forward to him finishing whatever it was he was trying to sing. Any remotely observant listener would have noted from the outset how totally out of keeping his singing was with everyone else, two aspects of his voice stood out: First his dreadfully laboured sounding vibrato & his repeated inability to hit the specific notes, instead using the aforementioned vibrato to somehow gradually find his way to the correct note. Even if one tries to be a little more accepting & less critical of his particular style of delivery, accepting also the inherent difficulties of performing along side such greats as Finley to mention but one example, I find his whole persona & frankly limited acting & singing abilities detracted greatly from my enjoyment of the piece as a whole. It is worth noting the praise offered regarding specific performances by other reviewers, even more noteworthy is the fact Mr. Jentzsch is not mentioned once, which reminds me of the old German saying "Kein Wort ist auch Ein Wort". Although it may appear otherwise I do not like dwelling on criticism especially where one contributor is concerned, but for the sake of prospective buyers of this opera, it seems only fair they are warned, that amidst such a marvellous production & glowing individual & group performances, its overall effect is without doubt spoiled (putting it politely) by Mr. Jentzsch's contribution.
It is beyond me why he was allowed to play such an important role, what really summed his performance up was the reaction of the audience at the end, those players of lesser roles received far more recognition & applause, quite frankly I'm not certain he wasn't blushing slightly. Doubtless my opinion will be endlessly criticised, & my abilities to recognise such details questioned, however I stand by my assertions. I will watch this Blu-ray again at some point next time however I think the use of occasional fast forward maybe in order.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still Listening to it!, 27 July 2013
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This review is from: Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg [DVD] [2012] [NTSC] (DVD)
What I've heard so far is fine. I am used to the Karajan performance on CD from some years back, but this DVD version is fine with the added benefit of seeing the production. Much better visually than a lot of stuff from The Met New York which in my experience has a horrible colour range, might be my system!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An ideal Meistersinger, 20 May 2013
This review is from: Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg [DVD] [2012] [NTSC] (DVD)
This production from Glyndebourne is top class. The production is superb with wonderful sets and the cast is pretty well perfect. Gerald Finley acts and sings superbly as Hans Sachs. He seems to be born for the part. He looks slightly too young but this is a minor quibble. Eva is sung by Anna Gabler who looks the part, being young and beautiful, and also sings and acts very well. The intimate setting of the Glyndbourne theatre allows the casting of singers who look appropriate for their parts. The playing and conducting is just as good. A must-have performance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Watch !, 3 May 2013
By 
Phillip Bissell (Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is simply the most engaging and wonderful production of this opera I have ever seen. Beautiful and passionate, tender and touching, powerful and utterly splendid! If ever there was a production that I would recommend to both the avid Wagerite AND non Wagnerians...it would be this one!!! Worth every penny....to watch over and over again!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny, 2 May 2013
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Simply glorious:
Wagner's most joyous opera performed and recorded in the most sympathetic and engaging manner.
What more could you want!
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