Update Thursday – And the reviews roll in, although German newspapers’ reviews will be out on Friday.
Jeers, Cheers as Bayreuth `Meistersinger’ Mixes Hitler, Nudity By Shirley Apthorp – July 26 (Bloomberg) — One boo for the first act, several for the second. Then the curtain fell on the third act and the storm broke. Katharina Wagner’s new staging of her great- grandfather’s “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” unfolded amid passion at the Bayreuth opera festival in Germany.
At the end, there was a generalized howl, followed by polite applause for the lesser singers. Then a handful of boos (entirely undeserved) for Amanda Mace’s sweet-voiced Eva. At this point, far too early for protocol, Katharina stormed onto the stage with her team to “support” her hapless singer. And the booing began in earnest, drowning out a flurry of cheers. more
From Deutsche Welle … And while the applause after the first two acts of Wagner’s only “comic” opera was friendly, the audience — which included a smorgasbord of German political and social elite — was less amused by the third and final act, which featured a few minutes of full frontal nudity, a bizarre sight of Richard Wagner dancing in his underwear and a bunch of master singers horsing around the stage with oversized penises.
When, at the end of the marathon seven-hour performance, which included 2 one-hour breaks, visibly nervous Katharina Wagner took to the stage, she was greeted with boos, hisses, jeers and whistles as well as bravos and cries of approval. The Bayreuth audience proved itself to be worthy of the music genre: dramatic, passionate and self-involved to the point of absurdity. …
From PlaybillArts.com Sharply Divided Reactions Over Katharina Wagner’s Revisionist Meistersinger at Bayreuth By Matthew Westphal July 26, 2007 – It was either an invigorating burst of fresh air for a stale institution, or an outrageous upending of everything the work has to say. It was received with warm applause and a few noisy dissenters, or with a storm of jeers that applauders tried in vain to cover. The lead singers were unworthy of this great opera house, or they gave very credible performances as singers and actors alike. The conductor and orchestra were uninspired, or they played like angels.
Just about the only consensus to be found among the early reports on the Bayreuth Festival’s opening night last night is that Katharina Wagner’s new production of her great-grandfather’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is very, very unorthodox, and that reaction to it is very sharply divided. more
Given its role as a signature piece in the Third Reich and its undeniable associations with the concept of German supremacy, Die Meistersinger is one of the most problematic of all Wagner’s works to stage. The great merit of Katharina Wagner’s production is that in conjunction with her trusted dramaturge Robert Sollich she has shown a determination to confront that baleful legacy, and here at its very epicentre in Bayreuth.
The German intellectual tradition – Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, Wagner himself – is represented by, first, statuettes and, later, by huge masks that come to life. What is controversial is that that tradition is swept aside. It is then symbolically and terrifyingly incinerated by Hans Sachs as he sings “Wach Auf” (his wakeup call to Germany). more
Wednesday 8 10 pm EDT First review in AP: Bold production of Meistersinger by Wagner’s great grand-daughter (excerpt below)
BAYREUTH, Germany: Art imitated art at Bayreuth on Wednesday, with Germany’s greatest opera genius interpreted by his great-grand-daughter in a bold new production of one of his key works.
The venue: The Bayreuth “Festspielhaus,” the operatic shrine dedicated exclusively to works of Richard Wagner. The event: A new production of his “Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg,” by Katharina Wagner_ in a debut that could help decide whether the 29-year-old becomes the next family member to run the Bayreuth Festival.
Expectations were high — and for the hundreds who booed the performance, obviously not met. But at least as many among the audience loved the production, reflecting the annual Bayreuth split of traditional Wagnerites and those hungry for experimentation.
And experimentation ruled Wednesday. No quaint gabled houses or medieval town squares, and no period costumes either. Instead, the audience was given a plot turned topsy turvy, a villain turned hero, a hero turned wimp — and a few minutes of full frontal nudity.
The opera is an ode to art — and Wednesday’s interpretation kept that focus intact. Beyond that, though, Richard and Katharina — in her first production at Bayreuth — parted ways 180 degrees.