New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Deutsche Grammophon's collaboration with the Bayreuth Festival has delivered rich artistic fruits over many decades. Their latest creative venture, a multi-year project launched in 2016, positions the Yellow Label as the legendary annual Wagner festival's exclusive audiovisual partner. The relationship has already documented landmark Bayreuth stagings of Tristan und Isolde (2016) and Parsifal (2017) as DVD/Blu-ray videos. The edition's third installment, scheduled for international release on July 20, is devoted to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Wagner's music drama, his only mature comedy, emerges here in the fresh light of Barrie Kosky's critically acclaimed Bayreuth Festival debut production.
The Australian director's vision of Die Meistersinger, first staged at Bayreuth in July 2017, was greeted as "a triumph" by the Berliner Morgenpost, hailed by Opera News for its "enormous insight and great quality" and described as "imaginative, supple and serious" by the Guardian. The production was also praised for the strength of its cast and the depth of conductor Philippe
Jordan's interpretation of Wagner's score. The New York Times commended Michael Volle for his "eloquent" portrayal of the central character of Hans Sachs and Maestro Jordan for a performance "acute in its pacing without racing, and never too bombastic".
Barrie Kosky's Meistersinger, which returns to Bayreuth this summer for six performances in July and August, blends visual imagery from past and present to ask profound questions of Wagner's opera, his nationalist politics and his anti-Semitic attitudes. The final act's prize contest is set at the Nuremberg Trials of 1945. Here Sachs - disguised to resemble the opera's composer - takes the witness stand to deliver his great hymn to the sacred purity of German art to an empty courtroom. "It's Wagner on trial here at Nuremberg, [the director] seems to be saying, not those who perform or watch him," noted the New York Times. Thanks to DG's Bayreuth Festival partnership, Kosky's multi-layered, often surreal, always compelling reading can now be judged and enjoyed by a global audience.
The Deutsche Grammophon/Bayreuth partnership will continue this year with American director Yuval Sharon's new production of Lohengrin set to be filmed for future release. The opera, conducted by Christian Thielemann and starring Roberto Alagna in the title-role and Anja Harteros as Elsa, will open the festival on July 27.