The Royal Opera: Die Meistersinger

Wednesday 11th January 2012 – 4:30pm

Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

This concert has a running time of c. 5 hours 45 minutes including two intervals.

Royal Opera Chorus
Renato Balsadonna Chorus Director
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Sergey Levitin Co-concert Master


Sir Antonio Pappano conductor
Wolfgang Koch Hans Sachs
Emma Bell Eva
Simon O’Neill Walther
Toby Spence David
Peter Coleman-Wright Sixtus Beckmesser
Sir John Tomlinson Veit Pogner
Heather Shipp Magdalene
Pablo Bemsch Augustin Moser
Nicholas Folwell Konrad Nachtigall
Martyn Hill Balthazar Zorn
Colin Judson Kunz Vogelgesang
Jihoon Kim Hermann Ortel
Robert Lloyd Nightwatchman
Donald Maxwell Fritz Kothner
Andrew Rees Ulrich Eisslinger
Jeremy White Hans Foltz
Richard Wiegold Hans Schwarz

Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary Festival opens with an unmissable event: The Royal Opera makes its much-anticipated return to Birmingham to launch a sequence of Wagner’s four greatest music dramas. Hear an outstanding cast in Wagner’s epic comedy about the power and glory of song, under the inspired baton of Sir Antonio Pappano.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, recommends tonight’s concert:

Here’s a chance to catch the composer at his more light-hearted, performed by a world-class bunch of musicians. Wagner’s greatest tunes coupled with a touching storyline will ensure the time will fly by.

Bryn Terfel has regrettably had to withdraw from the role of Hans Sachs due to a chest infection. We are pleased to be able to announce that the role will be taken by German bass-baritone Wolfgang Koch, who has been delivering outstanding performances as Sachs in the current staged production at the Royal Opera House. Koch has previously triumphed as Hans Sachs at the Vienna Staatsoper, and his highly praised Wagnerian roles also include Alberich (Das Rheingold, Siegfried) and Amfortas (Parsifal). All other casting remains as before.

If you are a ticket holder for this performance and you have any queries, please contact the Box Office on 0121 345 0600.

Concert performance sung in German with English surtitles. Please note surtitles may not be visible from every seat. Please check when booking.

One of a series of Wagner’s greatest operas, performed in the space of 6 months as part of Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary Festival.
Tristan und Isolde – Saturday 3 March
Good Friday: Gergiev conducts Parsifal – Friday 6 April
Wagner’s Ring: Die Walküre – Saturday 30 June

www.thsh.co.uk

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

...     “The principals were uniformly magnificent, headed by Wolfgang Koch as Hans Sachs: the indisposed Bryn Terfel was not missed here, Koch displaying all the intricacies of Sachs’ maverick yet wise character, and with a huge range of emotion in evidence.

Simon O’Neill was a sturdy, ringing Walther von Stolzing, rising superbly to Wagner’s cruel Prize Song challenge at the end of a long sing; John Tomlinson brought an endearing sense of bewilderment to Veit Pogner, wondering if he’s done the right thing in offering his daughter’s hand to the Prize Songwinner; that daughter, Eva, was sung and acted by Emma Bell with more personality than we sometimes see in the role, and her companion Magdalena was portrayed again far more roundly than usual by Heather Shipp.

And everyone’s hearts were captured by the David of Toby Spence, open-voiced and despatching his apprentice duties so appealingly.”

Review by Rohan Shotton, Bachtrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The soloists were largely superb in both voice and character, none more so than Sir John Tomlinson, whose Pogner exuded a glorious mix of power and grace: he was not the stale, daughter-selling fool he could be, but noble and commanding, and hinting at wistfulness in announcing the gift of his daughter. His presence filled the hall from the moment of his entry to his bow (greeted by the largest cheer of the evening), and he sang faultlessly with a magnificently full tone. His dialogue with Emma Bell as Eva early in Act II was touchingly gentle from both parties. Bell sang beautifully, mustering broad, lengthy lines with barely an effort. She switched from haughtiness with Sachs to radiant glow at the sight of Walther with fine command of both moods, and her vocal control was very impressive.”     …

Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “The star of Scene 2, and indeed the singer who throughout was the perfect fit for his role, was Toby Spence as David. Both his interaction with the other apprentices (twelve on this instance and constituting the front row of the centre choir stalls) and his instruction of Walther in the ways of the Nürnberg singing contest were exemplary. Seeing David later taking up his indentures from Sachs, made me wonder how long it might be before Spence himself plays the noble cobbler. His Der Meister Tone und Weisen was full of beautiful tone and melody, loud notes and soft, short ones and long, a contrasting range of colour, a diversity of flora and animal sounds; David knew the endless list of rules and Spence delivered them all.”     …

Comment by SCO Helen at the Guardian:

Link here

“Your reviewers have missed a treat – Birmingham Symphony Hall last night was the place to be! The concert performance of the Royal Opera House’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg was absolutely wonderful. Although Bryn Terfel was ill and could not take the role of Hans Sachs, he was admirably replaced by Wolfgang Koch, who played the role at the ROH. This meant that we were seeing the whole ROH cast, and they were very relaxed and natural with each other, acting far more than in usual in concert performances and thus giving us a very near approximation of the staged production. This was complemented by excellent surtitles, so that the dialogue was easy to follow. It was admirably and clearly sung in every case, with Sir John Tomlinson outstanding as Pogner and Toby Spence radiant as David.
The acoustics of Symphony Hall made the effect of the orchestral highlights and, particularly, of the chorus ‘Wach Auf’ in the final act absolutely overwhelming. And – a delight for a Guardian reader – Hans Sachs was reading yesterday’s copy of The Guardian onstage in Act 3 !

I should also have mentioned the magnificent orchestra under Antonio Pappano, who clearly has many Birmingham fans – he was greeted with cheers as soon as he walked onstage. Die Meistersinger is an incredible marathon for the orchestra and conductor – almost 5 hours of playing, with the final act lasting two hours without a break. They were superb throughout.”

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Wagner’s Ring: Das Rheingold

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Fri 24 Jun 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Opera North
Richard Farnes conductor
Peter Mumford concert staging and lighting design
Dame Anne Evans artistic consultant

Michael Druiett Wotan
Nicholas Folwell Alberich
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke Loge
Yvonne Howard Fricka
Andrea Baker Erda
James Creswell Fasolt
Gregory Frank Fafner
Giselle Allen Freia
Peter Wedd Froh
Derek Welton Donner
Richard Roberts Mime
Jeni Bern Woglinde
Jennifer Johnston Wellgunde
Sarah Castle Flosshilde

Nicholas Folwell replaces Joachim Seipp, Jeni Bern replaces Meeta Raval.

Wagner Das Rhinegold 150’

There will be no interval and the concert will end at approximately 10pm.

A collaboration of Opera North, The Sage Gateshead and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
The Opera North Future Fund is a major supporter of Das Rheingold.

Opera North is now recognised as the most interesting UK opera company outside of London’ Financial Times

‘Whichever other Ring cycles you go to, Opera North’s will, I’m sure, offer rich musical and dramatic rewards’ The Spectator

‘Richard Farnes’s superb, impassioned conducting leaves you in no doubt that you are hearing a masterpiece, and his excellent orchestra respond magnificently to his inspirational baton, whetting the appetite for his Ring.’ Sunday Times

Das Rheingold is the first part of Wagner’s Ring, one of the world’s greatest musical epics: a brooding mythological tragedy of love, power and vengeance. There is no greater challenge for any opera company, and this new production by Opera North is their first. Artistic Consultant Dame Anne Evans mentors a cast that blends artists experienced in this repertoire with the best of new talent. Each of the four parts will be performed at Symphony Hall over the next four years. Join us for an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s greatest sagas.

‘Even more admirable is the quality of the performance. Farnes has done many fine things at Opera North, but his pacing of this 150-minute sweep of music, his care about balance (not a single vocal line is overwhelmed, even in this opulent acoustic) and the sumptuousness of the orchestral textures – all this constitutes a massive achievement’ The Times 5* review of Das Rheingold

‘All of the admirably committed Opera North cast are adept at conveying character by gesture and expression and the semi-staging works well for anyone not seeking an ‘interpretation’.’ What’s On Stage 4* review of Das Rheingold

Watch Richard Farnes discuss Wagner, tabloid sensations, the Ring cycle and Das Rheingold

Read Richard Farnes’s blog introduction to Das Rheingold

Read Michael Druiett’s blog on taking on the role of Wotan.

Sung in German with English surtitles.

RT @Opera_North Das Rheingold will be broadcast live on @bbcradio3 tonight [1st July]  from 7.20pm, listen in here http://bbc.in/kKPICn #ONRing

Blog Review by Intermezzo:

http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2011/06/das-rheingold-opera-north-birmingham.html?cid=6a00d834ff890853ef01543347cfbb970c

…     “Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s camp Loge assumed the comic position more usually occupied by Alberich and Mime (Richard Roberts, wonderfully whiny). Jeni Bern, Sarah Castle and especially Jennifer Johnston were as fine a trio of Rhinemaidens as you could expect to hear anywhere. Peter Wedd and Derek Welton provided a sharply-characterised Froh and Donner, but it was Giselle Allen’s lusciously-voiced Freia who impressed me most.”     …

Review by ? Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/07/01/review-das-rheingold-opera-north-at-symphony-hall-65233-28964247/

…     “And under Richard Farnes the ON orchestra unfolds this tremendous score seamlessly, meticulous in detail (one example: 12 anvils and six harps – how often do you get that?), and contoured into one vast paragraph spanning two-and-a-half hours which fly by. Peter Mumford, who also designed the sensitive, point-making lighting, has given the opera a staging which gives worthwhile food for thought: the tiresome Froh and Donner are virtual lookalikes, as are the giants Fasolt and Fafner; Fricka, normally such a shrew, is here elegant and convincing in Yvonne Howard’s portrayal; Loge is appropriately camp, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke reflecting his ambivalent relationship with the gods; Andrea Baker a scary Erda; and Michael Druiett imposing as Wotan.

But the chief triumph of characterisation is what is normally the loathsome, contemptible dwarf Alberich.”        …

Review for Leeds performance by Anna Picard, Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/reviews/two-boys-coliseum-londonbrseven-angels-cbso-centre-birminghambrdas-rheingold-town-hall-leeds-2302743.html

…     “Considering the heft of an enlarged orchestra, the delicacy was impressive: the tender oboe accompaniment to Yvonne Howard’s melancholy Fricka, the sly bassoon beneath Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s charismatic Loge, the bell-like blend of the Rhinemaidens (Jeni Bern, Jennifer Johnston, Sarah Castle).

With lighter voices, Wagner’s text crackles and bites. Giselle Allen’s Freia, Dervek Welton’s Donner, Peter Wedd’s Froh and Richard Roberts’s Mime carried easily, while Nicholas Folwell’s bull terrier of an Alberich bristled with fury and envy. As Fasolt and Fafner, James Creswell and Gregory Frank made Freia’s abduction explicitly brutal. But was Michael Druiett’s Wotan meant to be a stuffed shirt? Das Rheingold is the start of Wotan’s downfall: it will be interesting to see how he develops when Opera North tackles Die Walküre.”     …

Review for Leeds Performance by Tim Ashley, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jun/21/das-rheingold-leeds-review

…     “We’re in for something special, if Rheingold is anything to go by. Despite a couple of flaws, this was one of the most enthralling Wagner performances of recent years.”     …

Review for Leeds performance, byGraham Rickson, ArtsDesk:

http://www.theartsdesk.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3934:das-reheingold-leeds-town-hall-opera-review&Itemid=27

…     “Three large video screens are suspended above the orchestra platform and the singers do much more than just enter, stand up straight and deliver. You forget that you’re in Leeds on a Saturday night, so engaging is the effect, and only occasionally do you notice the presence of more than 100 grinning musicians sitting behind the cast, visibly delighted at just how well the whole thing works.”    [ …]

[…] Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s Loge steals the evening; it’s his dubious advice which has led to Wotan’s problems, and Ablinger-Sperrhacke is compelling to watch, with his virtuoso display of shifty body language, fussy hand gestures and insincere facial expressions. The biggest cheers of the evening deservedly went to Nicholas Folwell’s Alberich, a charismatic pantomime villain inviting both sympathy and scorn, especially during his scenes with Richard Roberts’s wretched Mime, a perfect physical match for Folwell.”     …