Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is the only comedy among Richard Wagner’s mature works. Unusually for Wagner, it is set in a historically specific time and place, sixteenth-century Nuremberg, and tells of a song contest among the town’s guildsmen. It nevertheless explores the same themes of renewal, renunciation and human love as Wagner’s other great music dramas. The finely drawn humanity of its principal characters and the brilliance of its musical invention make it one of the most rewarding operas in the repertory.
The guide contains articles on the complex historical and political background to the opera, a detailed examination of its musical structure and a survey of its sometimes contentious performance history. Further articles explore some of the work’s roots in the poetry of Schiller and the vexed question of the extent to which Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism may be said to be present in the opera. The guide also includes the full libretto with English translation, sixteen pages of illustrations, a musical thematic guide, a discography, a bibliography and DVD and website guides.
Snapshots of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, John Deathridge
The Music: A Commentary, Arnold Whittall
Hans Sachs and Friedrich Schiller, Tim Blanning
The Beckmesser Problem, Hans Rudolf Vaget
The Performance Legacy of Die Meistersinger, Áine Sheil
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Poem by Richard Wagner
The Mastersingers of Nurenberg: Libretto by Peter Branscombe
For anyone with a keen interest in opera, whatever their level of knowledge, this series remains a benchmark of quality and clarity. The content is serious, reliable and trustworthy, handsomely put together, full of variety and scholarship but always making the practical experience of going to the opera a priority. I return to these volumes again and again and find the updated and new issues absolutely invaluable.
These guides, so beautiful to have and to behold, mark a huge advance on their predecessors. I find them essential supplements, not only to ENO and Royal Opera programmes, but to recordings issued on CD which often come without scholarly documentation and a libretto. The performance histories … are especially valuable, and not easily accessible elsewhere.
For everything you need to know, concisely packaged.
I am delighted to see the return of the ENO Opera Guides, bigger and even more authoritative than before. There are authoritative new articles as well as several of the irreplaceable originals, the presentation is very handsome and a decided gain is the brilliantly chosen selection of production images, in colour as well as black and white. The Guides are an invaluable reference for opera lovers at any level.
BBC Music Magazine
Neat little volumes they are, handy for carrying around, clearly printed and well set-out, complete with libretto and translation, discography and a generous selection of illustrations.
The best literal translation currently available … [Peter Branscombe's] translation as a whole is poetic; eloquent and enriching, as befits the work.
This uniformly excellent series is indispensable for the serious opera lover, all the more so now that almost all the CD companies have abandoned issuing a libretto with their opera releases, and have such scant background information. The English translations are on facing pages with the original texts, and in all respects the books are helpful and compact, and interestingly illustrated.
Richard Wagner (1813–83) was a composer who drew inspiration from Christian and Nordic mythology, as well as the philosophy of Schopenhauer, to pioneer dramatically new forms of music. His concept of the “Total Artwork” led to the construction of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, an opera house he designed specifically for productions of his own operas. He also wrote widely on music and art. His operas include Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the four parts of Der Ring des Nibelungen.