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Wagner, R. (1813-1883)

Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg

Composed 1861-1867.
First performed June 21, 1868.
Libretto by the composer (in German).

A Summary of gDie Meistersinger von Nurnbergh

Act 1
In the mid 16th century, in Nuremberg, Germany, a young knight, Walther, meets Eva at the St. Katherine's Church, and they fall in love with each other. However, Evafs father, Pogner, the master of goldwork, has decided to give all his estate and his daughter to the winner of a song contest on the St. John's Day. Of course, Walther takes the preliminary song trial. But, he fails it. One of the judges, Sachs, the master of boot making, sees the potential of Waltherfs passionate singing.

Act 2
Eva knows that Walther failed, so she consults Sachs. He doesnft give her any advice. Actually, Sachs is interested in her for himself. It has been a long time since he lost his wife. But, he understands Evafs feeling that she wants to marry the young knight, Walther. He also understands that he is too old to marry her. Sachs decides to give her up and help the young couple.

Act 3
On the following morning, Sachs invites Walther to his house, and recommends him to create a song based on his dream. Walther completes his own original song.
After Walther leaves, Beckmesser enters Sachsfs house. Beckmesser also loves Eva, that is, he is Waltherfs rival. Beckmesser finds the song Walther has written. Beckmesser thinks that Sachs created this song. Sachs tells him to get this paper. Beckmesser is pleased to receive it.
The song contest is held in the field of Pegnitz. First, Beckmesser sings the song received from Sachs. But, he canft sing the song well. Sachs says to audience, gThe song sung by Beckmesser is not his own work. I want to introduce the true writer of this song.h Walther appears on the stage, and he sings the song eThe Roseate glow of dawn.f Waltherfs song makes an impression on all of the judges and audience. Walther wins first prize, and marries Eva.

A Comment on gDie Meistersinger von Nurnbergh

This opera is Richard Wagnerfs only big hit comedy, he wrote some in his early days. The music is totally characteristic of bright and brilliant as compared to his gTristan und Isoldeh that is dark and sonbre. This opera is long, more than four and a half hours. gDie Meistersinger von Nurnbergh is a magnificent drama almost like a celebration, but all characters in this opera are ordinary folk, for example, shoemaker, public servant, and so on.

In medieval Germany, craftsmen organized craft guilds in a lot of fields, for example, bakery, textile, barber, and so on. Craftsmen can get the status of the master after they pass their examination. gMeistersingerh is one of the guilds, and craftsmen compete for creating songs. The craftsmen who pass the exam, can get the status of the master of song writer, gMeistersinger.h The leading character of this opera, Sachs, was an actual person. He was a great gMeistersinger.h He wrote more than 6,000 songs. He also lost his wife when he was in his fifties, but he got married again, unlike in the opera where he didnft.

Eduard Hanslick who in reality severely criticized Wagner, is portrayed as an unfortunate character of this opera, Beckmesser. Wagner described Beckmesser as gOld Guard.h In this opera, Beckmesser is beaten badly by Walther who has a new ideology, that is, Wagnerfs art. So, the aria that Walther sings is great.

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