Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg review at Glyndebourne – ‘welcome revival’

Darren Jeffery (Fritz Kothner), centre, in Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg at Glyndebourne. Photo: Tristram Kenton Darren Jeffery (Fritz Kothner), centre, in Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg at Glyndebourne. Photo: Tristram Kenton
by -

In Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg, the travelling knight Von Stolzing – new in town and unversed in the practices of the Mastersingers – manages to upturn age-old traditions and win the hand of Eva (a prize bride to whoever wins the song contest). The work carries topical resonances in terms of outsider integration and a defence of ‘sacred German art’ against foreign intruders, but David McVicar’s resetting of the action – from medieval to post-Napoleonic Nuremberg – outlines the nationalistic undertones without voicing the worst of them. The ornate, deep-vaulted ceiling of the church dominates Vicki Mortimer’s sets, deftly lit with intense, side-on sunlight by Paule Constable.

Gerald Finley is exceptional in humanising the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs’ predicament of protecting the old guard while accepting the new, the resulting strain almost ever-present in his furrowed brow. The voice is not overwhelming in heft but the payback is an intimacy that is utterly convincing. Amanda Majeski’s Eva is a little unnatural in her acting and lacks vocal bloom, but David Portillo is thrillingly youthful and alert as Sachs’ happy-go-lucky apprentice David. Alistair Miles is assured if not vocally imposing as the goldsmith Pogner, and shows touching affection for Eva in Act II. Jochen Kupfer’s physical command as a vain, slippery but hilarious Beckmesser is remarkable. McVicar’s crowd scenes teem with colour and detail, and Michael Guttler balances the passionate and the ceremonial in the pit, also revealing fetching, aptly nocturnal, half-lights in the music of Act II.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Deft directorial touches, impressive sets and a largely strong cast make this a welcome return of Glyndebourne’s 2011 production