Die Meistersinger tells a love story in the world of song contests in seventeenth century Nuremberg. To get the love of his life, the singer Walther von Stolzing needs to prove he is a master singer, a full member of the guild of singers. He has the song, but is frustrated in his endeavour by the strict rules of the craft.
The opera got its premiere in 1868, after a difficult time for Wagner. Some of his operas had failed miserably, his first wife Minna died, and he practically gave up on ever completing what was later to become Die Ring des Nibelungen. In the midst of all that, he wrote his only comedy.
The work is also his most traditional, breaking even with his own rules. At four and a half hours it is one of the longest opera’s in the general repertoire. I’ve seen it performed live, and the time flew by. I saw opera’s that seemed a lot longer than this one.
The performance on this record is a live recording of the opening performance in the newly rebuilt Nationaltheater in Munich. That was the same place as where the work premiered. In itself that makes this record special, but I just don’t like the sound quality. Probably because of the way it is recorded, it all sounds a bit flat.