"First of all this is a review of the DVD and the cut Act III prelude is intact as is everything else. The problem is that the sound is compressed to a noticeable degree. It is rather annoying. Fortunately this is a good performance. Not that there couldn't be a better one. But the MET performance of this year will probably not be out for two or three years and Wagner lovers in the meantime can savor this disk. McKerras leads a fine orchestra. The soloists are overall good if not outstanding and they look their parts. No funny stuff in the production. Satisfying all around execpt for that sound."
"I think the previous reviewers do this video an injustice. Donald McIntyre is magnificent in the dialogue parts, although he does appear a bit goofy in his monologues. His interactions with other characters, particularly Beckmesser, are well-acted and interesting.John Pringle is just about perfect as Beckmesser. His prissy manners and pedantic hand-gestures and his uncomfortable facial expressions kept me laughing all through the performance. For those of you who know the british BLACKADDER TV series, John Pringle is what Rowan Atkinson would be if he were an opera singer instead of a shakespearean actor. I admit, though, that many of the other cast members are unsatisfactory. Why is David so much taller than Walther? Why is Eva so much fatter than Magdelene? Why is Pogner so creaky and lame? Why is Kothner so wobbly? No good answers here. The end of Act I has a pretty funny moment--as Walther (Paul Frey) rushes off the stage after being rejected by the Masters, he accidently knocks over a large piece of the set.If you have never seen MEISTERSINGER, this video will serve as a nice introduction if you are able to focus on the good parts and not be put off by the weaknesses."
Inferior to Bayreuth/Stein because of severe cut
Theodore Shulman | 02/07/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Good performance except for cut of entire prelude to Act III and, at least in Laserdisc version, contains noticeable poor splice near end of Act II. Hans Sachs seems old, possibly somewhat feeble, and his essentially throwing a tantrum during Act III scene in his shop seems out of character for my perception of the personality of Hans Sachs."
Not so bad
Richard | 07/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those who hesitate to purchase this video after reading the previous review, I want to tell you that there IS prelude to Act III in VHS version (I don't know about LD version , and I did not recognize where the "poor splice" was), so you need not worry about cuts. Though there may be a better production of Meistersinger, it is worth the price, considering it is the only Meistersinger available in VHS format. In fact, I enjoyed it. As for the performance of Sachs, I think it is the matter of interpretation, not the problem of quality."
Great Production, Average Sound
Brian J Hay | Sarnia, Ontario Canada | 02/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The real fun in this performance is in the scenes shared by Donald McIntyre and Jonathan Pringle. As Hans Sachs and Sixtus Beckmesser respectively both men excel in their roles. These two had fun doing this and it's noticeable everywhere. Their facial expressions and body language are hilarious and their timing is superb. The level of spontaneity they share exceptional to the point where they don't appear to be acting. These two feed each other the way the members of some of the great comedy teams have and go beyond just being funny. One of the moving moments in the production comes near the end when Sachs goes to the humiliated Beckmesser to lift him back up. It's rare to see roles played with such a rare mixture of (wicked) glee and compassion.
One criticism that dogs Wagner is that his work lacks melody. It is true that he seldom made use of conventional song structure but he did know how it was done. "Morgandlich leuchtend im rosigen Shein" ("Shining in the rosy light of morning") should lay that myth to rest once and for all. This piece combines combines melody with formal structure and an injection of free thinking but stays within the traditional rounded form beautifully. This is also a very good performance of it. Paul Frey's rendition of this classic is great. His singing throughout the drama is splendid.
His acting isn't as strong. It's passable but not in the same class as the work from Donald McIntyre and John Pringle. His portrayal of Walther is somewhat one-dimensional and seldom does more than provide a springboard for the actions surrounding him. There are also a few times where he looks a bit lost. To be fair the character is never given the same depth as the rest of the principle players but there's still the feeling that more could have been done with the role. He also lacks chemistry with Helena Doese who plays Eva. His singing however, is excellent. For her part, Doese gives an excellent performance in the role of Eva. She has a beautiful voice and sings with all the warmth, power and compassion the role demands. The only weak points in her performance lie in her scenes with Frey. The attraction she's supposed to have for Walther never matches the obvious warmth she has for Sachs. Again, this points to a lack of chemistry between her and Frey.
The music from 'Die Meistersinger' is one of Wagner's brightest (perhaps his brightest) scores and this is an excellent performance of it. Conductor Charles Mackerras leads the Opera Australia Orchestra through an up tempo and airy rendition that captures its sunny nature beautifully. The music sparkles as if there's a series of small multi-coloured sunbursts flashing in time with the action. It isn't the type of time signature that follows a metronome though. It has its own signature, one that flows with the tide of the music and creates its own beat. Unfortunately, the sound has been compressed on this recording. It's not extreme enough to make it really dull, but it's not as vivid as it could be. Brass instruments have a real growl at their bottom end. In the real world stringed instruments have a noticeable bite (the bow does bounce off of the strings as it moves across them) to their sound. The list goes on. The audio track on this set has these qualities but not to the degree it should. It would be nice to see this production re-mastered to Dolby (or at least PCM without compression like the Chéreau production of the Ring). It would surprise a lot of people.
It would also lift this set to a near perfect rating. Paul Frey could have done more but his singing is excellent and his shortcomings don't really hurt the production. The sound isn't quite what it could be but the work of the ensemble comes close to making up for it. Highly recommended."