Cher Public

It’s complicated

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a problematic opera—or, rather, it is an  opera that has, in the last century or so, become problematic. Its composer,  Richard Wagner, was a profound artist who insisted in treating on profound  themes: Life, Death, Love, Redemption and so forth. In this opera, though, his  focus shifted to different universalities: Art and (here comes the troubling  part) what you might call ‘German-ness’.” [New York Observer] (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

  • operajunky

    Did anyone listen to the broadcast last night? Michael Volle took over as Sachs and just blew the roof off the place. An overwhelming ovation at his curtain call.

    • Bill

      Junky -- Volle sang quite nicely at times, sometimes
      unevenly -- my main problem was that he played
      Sachs as Red Skelton would play him -- at times more
      a buffoon than a serious Meister with all sorts of facial mugging. He did the same
      thing with Mandryka last season which ruined his interpretation for me -- who knows what
      he will do as Wotan in Vienna and then at the Met?
      I did not care much at all for Volle in the first act
      but he began to grow on me vocally (though not
      dramatically.) Botha sang the third act gloriously
      and the Beckmesser was quite good, I thought -- a bit
      more lyrical than some. There are other basses
      I would prefer as Pogner and a slew of Evchens who
      have sung the role more radiantly than Dasch could muster though from -- O Sachs mein Freund she improved. David was fine enough, the Lena as well.

      The prelude to the first act under Levine was
      rather mushy -- not at all precisely played and also more a dirge without orchestral nuance but
      his conducting improved though the Quintet was
      so lamentably slowly churned out it made it
      difficult for the singers to breathe. Most of the opera Levine never seemed to look up at the singers
      at all. The loudest ovation for Volle, then Botha but only one solo curtain call apiece for the leading singers -- left the opera
      house about 12:10 am -- probably not more than 4
      minutes applause in all -- and quite a few empty
      seats even at the beginning of the opera perhaps
      because of the heavy rain all day. Many of the patrons in the Grand Tier Restaurant were eating full meals during the intermissions which made for
      extremely long intermissions something like 45 and
      40 minutes each. In all not really a magical
      Meistersinger with the somewhat dreary droopy conducting probably the largest culprit.
      Pedestrian then, but what a Masterpiece !

      Unlike JJ, I have no problem with sets or the
      staging. Just traditional -- maybe no new insights
      but in keeping with the opera as we know it.

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        I just wanted to mention that Volle was the original Beckmesser in Katharina Wagner’s “Meistersinger” at Bayreuth in 2007 (Adrian Eröd later took it over).

      • quoth the maven

        I haven’t seen the production this time around, but all that cuckoo-clock kitsch has always made me uneasy, for the reasons J.J. suggests.

    • I am looking forward to the HD, first because it is Die Meistersinger, and secondly because of Volle. I have the 2001 (?) performance of this very production, and Morris’s voice is already a shade superannuated in that, though the rest of the cast is great (including a delightful Polenzani as David).

      No doubt, Schenk’s staging is conservative; indeed, it reproduces exactly the kitsch one associates with Meistersinger. But it is a masterpiece after all, and I prefer to think of the “honor your German masters” line as a sort of homage to Wagner himself: at the end of the day, he is good, and worthy of respect and admiration, no matter how nasty his personality or worldview were in his lifetime.

      When they asked Katharina the age-old question of whether her great-grandfather wrote his anti-Semitism into any of his operas, she answered “In Die Meistersinger, he probably did.” I am not sure about it, though a case can be made; Parsifal is a more likely candidate for that in my view, though even there it is ambiguous at most.

      The phrase translated as “German and true” is, of course, actually Deutsch und echt, with echt not being directly translatable (which is why you sometimes see it as a loan word in English). I agree the whole thing can have some unsavory associations.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Coloraturfan’s fundraiser was a success (presently $10 over the $2,500 he requested).

  • phoenix

    Another effort to deal with the work’s intrinsic ‘germanness’ head-on was Olivier Tambosi’s version (Landestheater Linz 2010 & Staatsoper Hannover 2013). I heard the Hannover performance and it didn’t go over very well with audience, but I’m not sure whether it was the production or his libretto text changes -- or both. Tambosi removes all occurrences of the word ‘Deutsch’ & ‘Nürnberg’ in any of their forms as they appear in the opera. Instead of singing about ‘my beloved Nürnberg’, Sachs sings ‘the city, surrounded by meadows, forest and mountain’. In the last act, his ‘Honor your German masters’ becomes ‘Honor your true masters’. Such changes occur all though the libretto
    -- While the translation didn’t bother me at all, I still would rather hear the original. The libretto was written by the composer and only he knew exactly the nuances of the poetry in music. I understand that 20th century facism & war have permanenbtly its stamp on the work but Tambosi’s changing the text doesn’t really do much -- who decides what ‘real and true’ art is as well as who “the true masters” are?
    -- Katrina Wagner’s production is sensationalistic in its approach to the problem and only makes it worse. If only there will come about a production that could successfully convince the audience with absolute certainty that the situation portrayed in Meistersinger defines a particular linguistic & cultural world, not a political one.

  • Will

    It’s all very tricky made so, of course, by Hitler and the Nazi Party but let us not forget that there have been broad swathes of anti-Semitism throughout all of Europe for centuries and still are.

    The idea of “Germanness” in art is held to be suspect, but has “Italianita” ever been denounced? That quality has been referenced in positive terms in this forum and elsewhere in the world of opera.

    When American critics began to declare Aaron Copeland the originator of an authentic “American sound” in music, was there backlash or were there charges of jingoism? And how are we to react to the strident chants of “USA! USA! USA!” in the face of the Senate Report on torture, brutality and illegal activity which, we were assured, the United States would NEVER resort to? — or to the demands from the Right Wing of religion in this country with which conservative are in full accord, demanding that LGBT people be executed en masse?

    How do we approach a work like Die Meistersinger in the light of all this?

    • luvtennis

      Will, great post. I hate it when someone praises singing as Italianate. Screw that! For me music transcends culture, race and ethnicity. Humans simply cannot be trusted to make distinctions based on such things. We always sink into the muck eventually no matter how well-intentioned.

      Verdi wrote operas about humans, not ethnic stereotypes.

      • Settle down, Luvt! :) You know that when people praise something as Italianate, they are speaking about style, not ethnicity.

        • luvtennis


          I know that YOU are because you are good and wholesome. Not so sure about others…. And it is a slippery slope. Humans cannot be trusted to make fine distinctions and for far too many it is a small step from proper “German style” to “German style is superior” to “hey let’s commit genocide.” I know that sounds crazy and I am not suggesting that anyone here would ever think such a thing, but the Parterriat ain’t exactly the common man.

          I have faith that one day we will all be able to rejoice in the many flavors that make up the tapestry of our species. Until then, it’s best to focus on our common humanity and ignore accidents of birth and geography.

          Just my humble opinion.

          • Luvt: I have always loved your moral righteousness (and I’m not being cynical) but I do think that, within the context of operatic discussion on parterre, the term Italianate is quite safe.

            Now, I’m off to write an Ode to the Common Parterriat.

    • 98rsd

      --the demands from the Right Wing of religion…with which conservative are in full accord, demanding that LGBT people be executed en masse?

      Hysterical, untrue, paranoid.

      • Will

        None of the above. Fundamentalist ministers are pointing to biblical texts that call for the execution of sodomites. I believe my phrasing has been quite rational and would note that LGBT organizations across the country are working to counter these wild and dangerous demands.

        • 98rsd

          I’m sure you can find some lonely, attention-starved lunatic, but it’s telling that you provide, when challenged, no evidence of either the crusading ministers or the backing by conservatives.

          On the Human Rights Campaign Fund site there is no mention of anything you describe. Instead, there are links to statements of support from the following Christian faiths:

          African Methodist Episcopal Church
          Alliance of Baptists
          American Baptist Church USA
          Church of God in Christ
          Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
          Church of the Nazarene
          Episcopal Church
          Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
          Metropolitan Community Churches
          National Baptist Convention USA Inc. [updated]
          Old Catholics/Independent Catholics
          Presbyterian Church (USA)
          Presbyterian Church in America
          Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
          Roman Catholic Church
          Seventh-day Adventist Church
          Southern Baptist Convention
          Unitarian Universalist Association
          United Church of Christ
          United Methodist Church

          There are some very conservative groups in that list. And when a lobbying group doesn’t mention threats in an effort to raise money, you can be sure there’s nothing remotely credible to list.

          You’re living in a fantasy world. In this instance, the real one is better.

          • luvtennis

            You should come to texas 98rsd. That might cure you of your optimism.

  • Will

    And, I should have added, in the light of the increasing disenfranchisement and abuse of the minority populations in this country that is growing again after what we thought (hoped) had been tremendous progress.

    • phoenix

      So you think it’s the duty of art forms (including opera) to make political statements? Are you not aware that the pendulum swings in both directions? In a world where the many are controlled by the few do you not realize the abuses will not end just by changing the cast?

  • blanchette

    anyone listening to Fabiano and Gheorghiu Boheme live in Sirius?- MF just did a bang-up Che gelida and now AG sounds very off her voice. interesting to hear this.

    • Lady Abbado

      Yep, I’m listening, except I don’t think there’s any issue with Angie’s voice. Her Si mi chiamano Mimi was better than two other recent ones from her from Vienna and ROH I listened to.

      • peter

        She sounds a little frail voiced to me and doesn’t seem to realize there’s a conductor on stage. She’s rushing and slowing down the tempos at will.

      • luvtennis

        Come on, Angie!!! This is a great opportunity for you to shine with a “new balls” tenor (tennis reference)!!!!!

        • Guestoria Unpopularenka

          You better check her blood pressure.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      My Sirius keeps choking, so it’s hard to tell.

      I think it took her a minute or so to warm up, and the pauses seemed over long between phrases. Low notes didn’t have the flutter I’m used to. Is flutter a technical term? Nope. I’d say a so-so rendition.

      He seemed overeager in the opening part of the act and then relaxed.

      • Satisfied

        Im in the house and should have posted this here — Angela is completly inaudible. The notes one can hear…one would rather not. She’s also throwing off the tempi…almost intentionally. Fabiano on the other hand is absolutely stunning. He’s stolen (rightly so) the lion’s share of the applause.

        • Satisfied

          If I were Gelb I would seriously be reconsidering (and or dreading) the contracts he may have offered to her (if MetWiki is to be trusted). Her singining is almost amateurish and much too small for this house. I’m sitting in the balcony tonight, where voices are usually heard at their best, but Angela is barely able to make it above the orchestra. Some alowances might be made if this were her first attempt at, say, Wagner, but come on: it’s her 800th performance of Mimi!

          • RosinaLeckermaul

            I’ve been listening on Sirius and find AG maddening. Someone should buy her a metronome. Absolutely no sense of tempo. Frizza is trying to follow her (a big mistake). When he slows to her tempo, she goes slower. Fabiano is terrific. I don’t understand why the Met uses him so little.

            • Lady Abbado

              As someone who reads pretty much everything written about her (since the beginning of times), I should add that AG’s “autonomous” tempos and battles with conductors as to whom should follow whom are as old as her career. So nothing new, really :)

              On the other hand, she probably has way more experience singing Mimi than Frizza does conducting La Boheme.

              So she has some right to artistic license.

            • Satisfied

              You couldn’t be more right Rosina--Frizza was visually struggling to keep her in line. As Lady Abaddo points out, this is of course nothing new for Angie.

            • Porgy Amor

              Something else that would not be new: skipping rehearsals because she has sung an opera “hundreds of times” (this opera, in fact). I am prepared to accept from someone on the inside that she was as diligent as anything in preparation for her Met return, but it certainly sounds as though she and Frizza were getting acquainted with each other on the job.

            • MontyNostry

              She certainly pulled Pappano around horribly in the all-star Tosca (with Jonas and Bryn) at Covent Garden a few years ago. He’s a bit prone to indulging singers as it is.

            • Porgy: I don’t know how many rehearsals she had for this Mimi (which I did not hear) but I wonder if that’s her strategy: Do minimal rehearsals so that during the performance, the conductor is forced to follow her?

  • Will

    I am one of those who knows that ever since Euripides returned from exile to Athens with the politically explosive script of The Bacchae, politics has been an integral part of the performing arts. All those Baroque operas that everyone thinks were so decorative and nothing else were actually tools in the hands of the royalty and nobility who put them on. Politics has always been part of all the arts, thus the savage attacks on artists, composers, authors et al by totalitarian regimes. Performing art has never been just entertainment any more than painting has been just pretty pictures or music just lovely melodies.

    • Byrnham Woode

      When it comes to nationalistic chest pounding, MEISTERSINGER has nothing on Shakespeeare’s HENRY V. That show manages to make comic fodder out of the French, Welsh, Scots and Irish. Will is quite right when he points out the Italian pride that Verdi exudes, without complaint from the gallery.

      All Hans Sachs is advocating at the end of MEISTERSINGER is the idea that society preseerve its art (and artifacts) so that it will be remembered in the future. A culture is remembered by its art (love those Grecian urns- and Olympics). That’s it.

      • Krunoslav

        ‘All Hans Sachs is advocating at the end of MEISTERSINGER is the idea that society preseerve its art (and artifacts) so that it will be remembered in the future. A culture is remembered by its art (love those Grecian urns- and Olympics). That’s it.’

        Nicht doch! He is calling attention to the dangers of Foreignness, of “false” Germans and their cultural production. just whom do you suppose he has in mind?

        Habt Acht! Uns dräuen üble Streich’:
        zerfällt erst deutsches Volk und Reich,
        in falscher wälscher Majestät
        kein Fürst bald mehr sein Volk versteht,
        und wälschen Dunst mit wälschem Tand
        sie pflanzen uns in deutsches Land;

        Beware! Evil tricks threaten us:
        if the German people and kingdom should one day decay,
        under a false, foreign rule
        soon no prince would understand his people;
        and foreign mists with foreign vanities
        they would plant in our German land;

        • just whom do you suppose he has in mind?

          Well, if you give RW the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Friedrich der Große?

          At any rate, this idea of “German culture” is a double-edged sword, since it seems to make “German” mean something rather more than simply “German-speaking and living in the area of the former Holy Roman Empire.”

        • Regina delle fate

          Wagner is using Sachs here to “predict” what Wagner knew with hindsight -- in the 18th Century, of course, most German princes and their courts spoke French and they imported “wälschen Dunst mit wälschem Tand” in the form of Italian opera, against which Wagner’s art, and that of his early 19th predecessors Beethoven, Weber, Marschner, is the reaction. Essentially this is a defensive position from outside attackers. It’s not about forcing Germanness and German art on the rest of the world.

        • marshiemarkII

          Cara reginissssima, so nice to see you back, and I know you are trying to “exonerate” our beloved Richard W with something relatively light, such as “French” or “Italian” fashions, but I think Wagner had no such fears, in particular since he adored Bellini and even wanted to create a German version of the bel canto school, to train singers, remember that?. I think what he is hinting at in those lines, which by the way are punctuated by music of most OMINOUS nature, in otherwise festive music, can be found in a similar moment at end of Lohengrin when Heinrich says:
          Nun soll des Reiches Feind sich nahn,
          wir wollen tapfer ihn empfahn:
          aus seinem öden Ost daher
          soll er sich nimmer wagen mehr!

          That seems to be a recurring theme for Wagner unfortunately, and Germany in the 19th C for some reason, and sounds with even more ominous resonance today in view of the VILE behavior of the FAT COW who runs Germany.

          • The king’s speech against the invaders from the east in Lohengrin is actually a progressive/revolutionary message in the context of the time the opera was composed, shortly before the revolutions of 1848. During this period, Germany was divided into many petty principalities, and Tsarist Russia was the guarantor of reaction throughout all Europe, ready to come to the aid of every kindred backward regime by putting down revolutionary insurrections through armed force. Wagner’s variety of German nationalism in this period comes from the left, not the right, and in this he was not alone.

            The song “Deutschland über alles” actually comes from the same place: it is directed against the petty princes who put their personal interests against the interests of Germany as a whole; it calls for the people to put the interests of Germany above all — i.e., unite Germany for the good of all its people. This is quite different from the meaning the song acquired in later years, with the implication that it calls for Germany to dominate other countries — in the 1840s, it didn’t. The same is true for Wagner’s Heinrich.

            Die Meistersinger comes from a later period, of course, when Germany was in the process of being united. Though it’s worth remembering that his patron (the Bavarian king) was not the eventual victor; the Prussians were, and of course this was the same state that had suppressed the revolt in Dresden in 1849, in which Wagner had been a prominent participant.

            That the Bayreuth Circle was a gathering place for all sorts of creepy right-wing extremist elements cannot be denied, though. These people, like Wagner himself, were anti-Semites. Unlike Wagner (who remained pacifistic in his inclinations), these people supported Prussian militarism and, later, the Hitlerites. I don’t think we can know how Wagner himself would have come down on these questions. Fundamentally he was a person of the 19th century rather than the 20th. I rather suspect that he would have been for anyone who recognized his genius and, crucially, subsidized it with a whole lot of money.

          • Lohenfal

            Liebster MMII,

            I followed my original plan and stayed away from the Met Meistersinger in person but listened to the broadcast yesterday. It was actually better than I anticipated. Levine was more successful in shaping and pacing the work than he was in 2007; it didn’t seem overextended as it did at that time. The singing in general was fine, except for Dasch, of course, and Botha occasionally was surprisingly unsteady. Volle seems somewhat light for Sachs, but the voice was agreeable, and he was able to interpret the role successfully. All in all, a good listening experience, and I was able to do what I never would at the Met: have my lunch and dinner while listening. Such is the advantage of home.

            Yes, those lines beginning Habt Acht! are rather ominous, but I take them in the context of Wagner’s time. The essays which he wrote at the time he was composing this, such as Deutsche Kunst and deutsche Politik, give a good explanation of what he was thinking. Some of those thoughts are objectionable from a current standpoint, but it isn’t necessary to read them into the opera if one doesn’t want to. I prefer to read about them afterwards but not dwell on them while enjoying the Meister’s art. I can understand, however, why his ideas have created such a stumbling block for some who might like his work in other ways.

          • marshiemarkII

            My carissssimo Dabrowski, so nice to interact with you finally, as I have been admiring your writing for a long time (along with the fabulous Bluevicks!). And as expected you offer a fresh and very interesting perspective on Wagner, and his phobias for the “East”. I am aware of his lefty leanings in the 40s, he was co-conspirator with none other than Mikhail Bukharin!!!! in the 1948 one, and he did spend time in Riga also. I do however believe, that as a German nationalist, he did harbor the fear, or disdain, or whatever you want to call it, for the “Huns”, and not necessarily for the “reaction” as represented by Tsarist Russia, but this is a very long and complicated subject and perhaps a bit outside of the parameters of what one can contribute in a blog about opera :-) but needless to say, the “leftism” of young Wagner didn’t survive his old age, although the humanism and pacifism (to use your words) is a constant in his latter-day masterpieces, the cosmic vision of the Ring is exactly the opposite of what simpleminded people think of Wagner, it is against power, greed and domination, the very opposite of militarism and fascism, redemption by love after all :-) Parsifal is above all about compassion and nature, and the most glorious of them all, Meistersinger is about the common man, uniting in a glorious synthesis an die Freiheit, an die Freude and a bit of Mit Tränen , to create an die Musik. That is the real Wagner!!!! the rest is an interpretation of some political interest or another to use his glorious art for their own purposes!

            So that is my dear Lohenfal why we love Wagner so much, because he accompanied the most glorious humanist vision of our destiny with the most sublime music ever written. The rest is chaff :-)

          • marshiemarkII

            My carisssimo lohenfal, I did not get to even listen to the HD yesterday, even though I continue to listen to my recordings day and night, can’t get enough of this divinity, this glimpse of heaven. I am happy you thought Levine was great, as I did, and it seems carissimo Lurquito thought also. Volle I loooooved in Arabella, and would have thought him perfect for this, but I defer to you who heard him, in any case Morris certainly is still up for the glorious part, and amazingly so at that age. I am surprised Botha sounded unsteady, could it be he has been joust POURING it for so long now? Poor Dasch didn’t even sound good with the microphones?!?!?!?!?!?! I thought she might have projected better but I guess a mediocre voice is a mediocre voice? Carissssimo there is still chnaces to experience that subliem music in the theater there is nothing like it! I am afraid to go again only because I may never reproduce the seats I had this time around, the rehearsal I saw from the first row of the Grand Tier (sensational sound) and the premiere from the L row, dead center, in the orchestra, astonishing sound and involvement with the stage, so if I cannot get the same I may be disappointed, but I probably will go to see one more, after all without a Brunnhilde, this is without a doubt Wagner at its absolute most sublimestly glorious (pearlaceously glorious :-) )

            • phoenix

              re: Dasch. Generally, I felt the same way most of you do about her Met Eva when I had heard her over the past several years as Elsa in all those Lohengrins from Bayreuth, Scala, etc. Colorless & bland.
              -- MMII, the HD digital processing doesn’t do anything for her -- she doesn’t record well at best, but the Meistersinger yesterday sounded really out of it. I was hoping she would come across at the Met better than she did in the other Meistersinger I heard her in (Budapest, 23 June 2013 with A. Fischer conducting). Right now I just listened to her Budapest “O Sachs” and the quintet. Her “O Sachs” in Budapest was much better than at the Met yesterday -- Fischer’s tempi was brisk but steady & she was able to maintain almost perfect legato throughout -- with overtones in the lower notes & also delicate crescendoed pianissimos that worked -- that didn’t fail & go sharp & white like they did at the Met. However, she needed a slower tempi for the quintet (she doesn’t have perfect pitch) and it was a little touch and go there, but still her voice had more richness & color than anything I heard yesterday.
              -- What happened? In just a year and a half she sounds so reduced. Maybe she was suffering from NYC winter sinus.

            • marshiemarkII

              I feel like such an idiot, I meant of course BAKUNIN (not Bukharin :-) and Dresden 1849!

              Caro fenice many thanks for your voice evaluation of Mlle Dasch, you are one of THE voice Qs here, and thus highly respected by me!

              Yes I guess the poor dear is beyond hope then if even digital signal processing couldn’t fix her rather colorless and uninteresting voice!

  • blanchette

    away from it right now- yes agree with peter.

  • quibbleglib

    Fabiano pulled it out! All around terrific performance; full-throated, dynamic, exciting singing, extremely musical with many lovely phrases, and a great stage presence. I was at the back of the orchestra and never wanted more voice — the kid really pulled me right in! This is what opera is about!!!

    AG was….odd. Her voice in the first and second acts was severely underpowered, and though she warmed up a little later on, a lot of her choices on stage were just plain weird. Did anyone see when she grabbed Musetta’s hat and started to put it on at the beginning of Quando m’en vo? Or how she was literally jumping up and down and waving her arms around like a drunken school girl at the end of the second act? BUT I found much of her phrasing really gorgeous, and quite liked a lot of her rubatos, especially at the end of the O Soave fanciulla. It’s my opinion that Frizza should be following her, not the other way around.

    • CwbyLA

      I love Angie’s innate musicality and her phrasing is almost always very tasteful and meaningful.

      • MontyNostry

        Meaningful to her, certainly. It’s just that nobody else can hear it sometimes.

    • quoth the maven

      Fabiano pulled it out!!? Did anyone take a picture?

      • aulus agerius

        ROTFLMAO! Best in a long time!

      • Lohengrin

        No picture from Met Boheme but from Scala “Einspringer”-Fidelio:

        • Rackon

          Thanks for pics of last night at La Scala. No time for rehearsal, Pereira announced at 8pm JK had landed at airport.

          • Lohengrin

            Adrenalin pur!

      • Grane

        We need a “favorite” star. Here’s a star.??

        • Grane

          Was a star emoji. Didn’t work.

  • Milady DeWinter

    Listening via Sirius, I too was struck by Mme. G’s tempi and rubati -- but they work for her, and the role, but not, apparently, for Sig. Frizza. A lot of push me/pull you going on which seemed unnecessary. Her voice now has about half the mass it had in the 2010 Rondine run, and I have not heard so many ad lib giggles/oh’s/ah’s and oy’s since Ponselle’s Carmen (not that I heard it in person, mind you!). Still, and with all that, I found her quite touching, especially after she had warmed up (Acts 3 and 4 really lovely).
    Fabiano was very fine (although he really could/should relax just a wee bit; it’s Rodolfo, not Cavaradossi; as a personality he seems not much different from the Alpha Tenor we first met in “The Audition’). But he didn’t over do the high C in Act 1, and actually scaled back to a soft dynamic when required.

  • I haven’t seen any reactions to the HD here, apart from Rowna‘s. I found it an adequate performance of Die Meistersinger, which is to say that I thought it was wonderful, because Meistersinger, when done competently, is always wonderful. The star, as always, is Richard Wagner himself, singing to us through that brilliant score.

    Taken as a whole, I do not think the cast in the HD was as good as the cast from the DVD of this same production from 2001 (?) or so. That previous cast was Morris, Heppner, and Mattila; in the smaller roles it included excellent performances from Thomas Allen (Beckmesser), Polenzani (David), and Pape (Pogner). Note that I prefer the 2001 cast on the whole. The very big exception is that Volle was an excellent Sachs in the HD the other day; Morris, by contrast, is already sounding rough around the edges in the DVD. So the HD was worth the experience just for that.

    Heppner and Mattila, who were more or less in their prime on the DVD, were preferable to Botha and Dasch. That’s not to say Botha and Dasch weren’t good, though. I liked both of them vocally, even though I didn’t find either of them revelatory. Botha, while vocally good, can’t act to save his life, and was frequently looking at the pit. I thought Dasch was better as Elsa (in the La Scala Lohengrin with Barenboim and Kaufmann) than she was here as Eva, but I still found her vocally pleasant. She also looks like Scarlett Johansson, but is a better actress.

    Kränzle’s Beckmesser was downright superb; he was exactly the comic villain Beckmesser is supposed to be. I usually enjoy Hans-Peter König, but found his Pogner more workmanlike than affecting.

    I think that this repertoire is where Levine is at his best. His slow tempi inevitably make an already lengthy piece even longer, but that’s no hardship. Was it just me, or were some of the orchestra players smiling at certain points in the prelude? It is one of those pieces where you can luxuriate in the sonorities, even if you’ve heard it a hundred times.

    The subtitles were strange at times, and took the edge off the German nationalism in Sachs’s final monologue at the expense of some of the poetry. So for instance, if you didn’t know the work already and don’t have any German, you would have missed the symmetry between the “Holy Roman Empire” and “holy German art” — a symmetry I have always liked, and one in which, far from narrow chauvinism, I have always seen as reflective of Wagner’s more generous side. Germany’s national glory, he seems to be saying, is not to be found in temporal political power but in its cultural achievements, which he sees as something of a gift to humanity rather than an instrument of domination, and a source of strength for the people rather than a club to be used against “untermenschen.” This work is nothing if not complex and ambiguous.

    There’s a passage in the second act, where Sachs is ruminating on Walther’s first, unsuccessful song; he says it sounded old, but also as new as birdsong in “sweet May.” I think the same of Meistersinger itself. I almost envy anyone who has not heard it, and gets to hear it for the first time; but even on yet another of countless hearings, it retains its power and sheer joy for me.

    • antikitschychick

      Delightful review Dawbroski :-). Thanks for sharing it! After reading dear MMII’s review of I believe an in-house performance on another thread, I really wanted to catch this HD but couldn’t. Hopefully it will pop up online soon. Or would you recommend I watch the 2001 performance first? I’ve never seen this opera so this would be my first experience viewing of it. I’m a huge Wagner fan though so I’m sure I’ll like it :-D.

      • Before responding to you, antikitschychick, I first have to note how pleased I am that marshiemarkII offers compliments on my writing; I sometimes wonder if I am just droning on and no one finds my comments interesting. I am an enthusiastic “educated amateur” on the subject of opera, and I recognize that others here have a lot more knowledge to offer than I do! Which is why I keep returning to this site.

        Throat cleared, I’ll note that MMII may be right and that my memories of Heppner in the DVD are a little hazy, perhaps colored by how glorious he sounds on the Solti CD recording? MMII finds Heppner unsteady on the DVD, and maybe that perception is correct? It’s been a good long while since I watched that DVD the whole way through. So I think I’ll recommend you watch the HD, either when it comes out via the inevitable YouTube dump, or if you can arrange to make it to the encore broadcast on Wednesday evening. I think it’s worth it for Volle. I do also have a more positive view of Dasch than MMII does, even though I recognize she does not even come close to Mattila.

        As I wrote previously, I almost envy someone who is going to see Die Meistersinger for the first time. It is a delight. It is usually said that it is Wagner’s only mature comedy, though I think a case can be made that Siegfried and even Das Rheingold — when considered as self-contained works, rather than part of the Ring as a whole — are actually comedies, although they are black comedies. Certainly they have comedic elements. But in any case, Die Meistersinger is a consistently sunny work. Wagner’s humor tends toward the subtle, even when the Beckmesser hams it up a bit, but his humor is also rich, and the work itself is his most self-referential.

        Famously, you hear snatches of Tristan and, on at least two occasions, a portion of the “Love” leitmotif from Die Walküre (the latter of which had not yet been performed in public when Meistersinger premiered).

        There is an extended explanation of the structure of a master-song, which in its most basic form consists of a twice-repeated melody followed by a lengthier “abgesang”; this structure, as well as the practices of the master-singers portrayed in the opera (e.g., the use of a “marker”) are all taken from the real-life history of the master-singers. The entire structure of Die Meistersinger itself — two rich acts, followed by an even longer and richer third act — mirrors this song structure, so much so that it was probably deliberate; that is how much of a genius Wagner was.

        Whole books could be — and I think have — been written about the way Wagner split his own personality in this opera, in which Sachs is a stand-in for the older and wiser Wagner, who has accepted the necessity of Schopenhauerian resignation, and who mentors a Walter who represents the younger Wagner, who is creating a new form of art that the old masters do not understand, yet whose enthusiasms overwhelm an as-yet-insufficient respect for the achievements of those old masters who are his worthy predecessors. As with all of Wagner’s works, it is a product of his relentless narcissism — a narcissism that must have been exasperating for his friends, family, and colleagues, but has left the rest of us all the richer.

        There is so much more to be said about the work. The question of whether Wagner’s anti-Semitism infects the work itself. The history of Wagner’s disputes with the critic Eduard Hanslick and his circle, and the fact that Wagner re-published his repulsive then 20-year-old essay on “Jewry in Music” under his own name shortly after the Meistersinger premiere.

        Knowing all of this and being able to discuss it enriches one’s experience of this work, but is also not necessary for enjoying it. Like all great art, it stands on its own.

        • antikitschychick

          Oooh I had forgotten about the possibility of attending the encore, thanks for reminding me! I will definitely try and make plans to go see that :-D. Your response to my post is even more inspired than your original post and I must say your analogy between certain of Wagner’s operas and the black comedy film genre is brilliant. I adore black comedies, as well as dystopian films (the last great one I saw was Synecdoche New York by Charlie Kaufman who is imho a genius; I highly recommend that film!) and I definitely see/hear a lot of those slightly macabre yet uplifting elements in Wagner’s works :-D. Thank you for the historical info as well. I must admit that although I’ve read many of Wagner’s letters as well as a few scholarly essays I have not read a full biography so the nuggets of info you provide are very helpful. Please continue to post when you can. Your contributions provide interesting and well-written insight.

        • It was during the 2001 run when Heppner’s cracking became problematic. IIRC, his one-year sabbatical came not too long after that. From what I remember, he still sounded good at that time (he was an ideal Walther and the Prieslied sat gorgeously in his voice) but his performances were marred by the cracks. The Met DVD was cobbled together from a number of performances to get a crack-free final product.

        • marshiemarkII

          Carissssimo kashie, not to be a prissy Q, but Heppner’s cracking started long before the 2001 Meisterisnger. Remember the Tristan new production in 1999 was a crackfest? I went specifically and exclusively because of him, because he had had such glorious performances up to then and particularly the two recordings of Meistersinger (Solti and Sawallisch), and he surely was the closest thing there was to an heir to the greatest God Vickers, and what a shock that was!. The DVDs are very disappointing, it is not just the cracking, the voice in general is so tentative, the line so broken, forget about any abandon, and let alone grandezza, no it is not a good memento for him at all, unfortunately. He, being far less fat than Botha, also looks incredibly graceless. Best to just listen to the two glorious recordings!

          • Wow, I have no recollection of that. I recall Heppner sounding terrific in the Tristan PBS broadcast and I heard great things about the revival a year or two later.

            • phoenix
            • Camille

              What you have to say regarding the rehearsal performance of Der Freischütz and the actual performance interests me, as I have always felt that a great burden of pressure was put on him as The Next Big HeldenTenor in training, and was rushed into thjngs, whereas he could have stayed a little longer with the spinto stuff, and things a shade lighter, like the Prince and Idomeneo, although both are still daunting. His Énée, which is cruelly high, sounded fine, as well the recording of Jean Baptiste in Hérodiade. A damn shame that a Freischütz was not given at the MET with him and Voigt or Mattila, pick your fave and back in the day for it may have revived the work which has been consigned to musical dustbins. I must away!

            • marshiemarkII

              CammiB! what that story about the rehearsal versus performance illustrates for me is that he probably suffered from “nerves” even more inordinately than the typical opera singer. Some singers literally become paralyzed with fright when they have to go onstage, and just freeze. In this example, Heppnes showed in the rehearsal showed that he had EVERYTHING one would ever want to hear. Phrasing, technical skill, gorgeous color, musicality, everything, and he was [relatively] very relaxed and just delivered, by the performance everything came apart and he was terrible, but I knew how glorious he had sounded two days earlier, or maybe just one day…. so that probably became the story of his life, as he went deeper and deeper into the most demanding repertoire for the tenor voice. Botha on the other hand, with an equivalent instrument, just pour and pours, oblivious to everything around him (or his throat for that matter). He may not be the most exciting singer in the world, and maybe not even as interesting as Heppner, but there is a world-wonder quality, how he just stands there, and delivers golden molten sound for hours on end, literally DOMINATING everything around him with the sheer glory of the voice!

            • marshiemarkII

              sorry about the typos, uggggh, but the Qs know what I mean :-)

            • Camille

              Right. Nerves.

              Remembering the expression on his face while singing the Presiied in 1989, as if “O Gott! What have I gotten myself into??” I mean, rarely do I see such an expression on the face of a singe of awestruck terror.

              Anyway, he gave his all and seems to be a great guy.


          • Camille

            Well, it has nothing at all to do with being a prissy queen, it is just the triste truth that those Tristan und Isolde‘s were marred by many an unfortunate vocal crack or jmprecision…gad, I must have sat through five or six of them, and heard him eight times in the Lohengrin in 1998, where a little evidence of strain was beginning. I can still remember his hesitancy on “Heil dir, Elsa!” Near the conclusion of Act II. I always was sweating and praying for him at that moment!

            There was one great night, we will never ever forget it, when in the third act of Tristan, when absolutely everything came together and worked without the slightest hitch for him, an indelible memory, like that of my sole performance I chanced upon of Vickers’ Siegmund.

            I first saw Big Ben in Meistersinger in 1989 in Seattle when he was still pretty much unknown in NYC, and it was all easy for him then, if he still looked a little green around the gills, especially about that hideous knight’s dress he was forced to wear. I always loved him for the job he did with these impossible heroic parts he got stuck with and always suffered terribly for him when I heard his vocal tics. I miss him, and I wish him all the best in his new office as broadcaster for the CBC. Good luck to ya, Big Ben!

            Fab Idomeneo from what I have heard on Sirius, come to think of it and a fab Prince in Rusalka in 1990 Seattle production. No trouble with high notes there!

            • Camille

              Sorry, rampant wild italics attack. In a rush.

              Also, his Énée, which is recorded, was wknderful.
              Never wkll forget the collective gasp of the audience when he walked out on the stage in Les Troyens, due to his change in appearance after a weight loss of 100 lbs. or thereabouts. He apparently had some sort of heart ailment, was that it? That may account for a part of his problems, but would not know for sure and is only conjecture.

            • marshiemarkII

              CammiB!!!! so glad you remember that crackfest in the Tristan, most of them were marred by some of the fiercest cracking ever heard at the Met. I remember defending Heppner from the ferocious attacks from the Qs and I choosing to talk about his Vickers like agony in Act III, and his musicality, but the cracking was undeniable. You may remember I once talked about the Freischuetz with Eve Queler in 1991. I went to the rehearsal and there it was this unknown tenor who sang one of the most spectacular performances ever, heroic in scale and with the most amazing coloratura (I imagine the Idomeneo equally great as you say). By the performance it was all gone, terrible unsteadiness the coloratura laughable, very strange. But I loooved the sound of the voice, later sang a spectacular Fidelio with you know who in San Fran, and then the divine Meistersinger recordings, then the Tristan semi debacle, and the big crise, but remember we loved him as Siegfried in Act III with Debbie Joy at a recent Met Gala (sein mein sein mein sein meeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiin :-) )

              De gustibus and all but I do have to pick a bone with Deep South, Botha didn’t dominate the stage?!?!?!??!??!?!? how would you know that from an HD viewing? I saw it in the theater and both times I felt precisely that, HE DOMINATED the enormous stage of the Met, and just with the sheer power of the voice, no acting, no antics, just stood there, and sang and sang and sang, and with pure singing totally dominated the stage, and filled every corner of the house, thank you!

            • Camille: From what I remember, he was taking blood pressure medication that he believed (after consultations with medical professionals) was causing the cracks. The reason he dropped those pounds was so that he wouldn’t have to take the medication anymore. And he looked like a completely changed man. Remember his Tosti album cover? He looked some 15 years older. but he was also quite slim. And to my ears, his vocal colour changed to when he sang Enee. To me, the sound was more silvery and less his usual bronzen tone.

            • luvtennis

              I went to one of the Tristan’s in 99. He was wonderful that night. Incredible really.

        • DeepSouthSenior

          I had an interesting double-dose of Die Meistersinger over the weekend. Last Friday, we watched the 2001 performance with Heppner et al on Met Opera on Demand. (I assume this is identical to the DVD.) Heppner sounded excellent to me in every respect. Perhaps it was spliced from several different nights. At any rate, it worked, and he was strong, clear, and steady. I also went to the Live in HD on Saturday. Botha suffered greatly in comparison to Heppner as archived in 2001. Whereas Heppner might be described as a heldentenor on the light side, Botha strikes me a dependable mid-strength dramatic tenor with exceptional stamina. Neither can Botha dominate the stage (vocally of course, not physically) like Heppner in his prime. If Heppner’s acting skills were weak, Botha’s seem non-existent. I loved Volle as Sachs -- such a deeper, more complex interpretation than Morris in 2001, and in much better voice. What Volle lacked in gentleness and winsomeness (Morris can be such a charmer!), Volle made up in emotional range and consistency of vocal production throughout. Polenzani and Appleby were both fine as David, the former stronger of voice and the latter a better actor. Rene Pape as Pogner in 2001 didn’t register with me as the father, being four years younger than Karita Mattila as Eva. Mattila, though far from virginal, was strikingly beautiful as Eva in 2001, and needless to say sang rings around Annette Dasch, who made a valiant effort but who just does not have enough voice for the part. I’d rate the two Beckmessers even, with a slight nod to Thomas Allen in 2001 for nostalgia’s sake. I’m glad that I went to the HD last Saturday, but it erased no memories of 2001.

          By the way, I loved the “hyper-literal,” traditional production and am sad to see it go. There’s something to be said for faithfulness to time and place, without irony and the intrusion of modern sensibilities.

          • Heppner was not a natural actor by any means but I believe he worked hard to be a good actor. By the end, he had found a way of putting the drama across in a combination of his singing and acting despite his lack of natural stage presence or acting ability. I remember his Florestan when he took a brave (planned) fall in the dungeon scene after tugging too much at his chained foot. To me, that showed his commitment to drama.

            When I saw his Tristan live (both at the Met and the COC) and Grimes, his performances were dramatically very engaged. His Walther (which saw only the one time on PBS so memories are foggy) was not a good example of acting. He didn’t do the dashing romantic lead thing.

      • marshiemarkII

        Well carisssimo Dabrowski, you can count me in as someone who ALWAYS reads with a huge amount of interest (as I also do with Bluevicks) and here once again you say soem really interesting things.
        Yes Wagner put a lot of himself in Hans Sachs for all you say, but also he is von Stolzing, the wild creative impulse, the breaking of rules, I mean Tristan anyone :-), and of course he is the synthesis of it all (agree also about his narcissism), I wrote along very similar lines in my discussion of the premiere.

        The Tristan themes appear shamelessly in both of Sachs great Monologues, the Flieder (II), and the Wahn (III) of course, but no place more obviously than in O Sachs Mein Freund, which makes lohenfal’s suggestion that Eva is really in love with Sachs very plausible, though to me very ambiguous also.

        Yessssss Heppner is simply SUBLIME for both Solti AND Sawallisch (roughly the same time), but for whatever reason, he doesn’t sound great in the 2001 DVD. Mattila is a very great singer, so comparisons with poor Dasch are just unfair, Mattila could be near the top of a long list of glorious Evas and Dasch would be near the bottom of that same list.

        • Lohenfal

          Yesterday, in listening to O Sachs, mein Freund, I came to my usual conclusion, even with the poor showing of Dasch. That doesn’t mean it was Wagner’s intention--the dramatic situation would imply the opposite, that she’s just showing her affection and gratitude to Hans. Yet, the music is all too persuasive.

          I checked out Joseph Kerman’s comment on this passage in Opera as Drama. He doesn’t draw any conclusions from it but calls Eva’s music at this point “superheated.” Exactly my opinion!!

        • marshiemarkII

          Carisssimo lohenfal, yesssss, when I first wrote about it in the premiere discussion, I mentioned the expectation of Isolde’s waiting for Tristan’s arrival, but later the most erotic theme from the Liebesnacht appears, totally corroborating what you said. And yet I maintain what I said then, that she is really grateful and respectfully admiring and thankful, but she is pretty horny for Walther all the way through from the very first “gaze” in the church, to all the pleading to Magdalene and Sachs in Act II to help her “get her man”, and her readyness to elope, really, she is very unambiguously HOT for the guy. Yet Wagner gave the most erotic music for her O Sachs Mein Freund……… it is one of those mysteries like the Heiligster Minne invocation by Siegmund, over the music of renunciation of love, end of Act I. Or my favorite, the worst!,remember that discussion?, why oh why did Wagner assign the most glorious evocation of the marital love motif, to the most nastiest bitchiest line Brunnhilde has in the entire Ring (Sein Mannesgemahl bin ich……). He will keep us busy talking about this for centuries…..

      • armerjacquino

        The 2001 performance is on Met Player- a service I highly recommend. Best fifteen bucks a month any opera lover could spend.

    • marshiemarkII

      Carisssimo dabrowski, I second La Chikisssima (howya daaahlink) in complementing your review. I do beg to defer though on Heppner, I absolutely adore him when he is good, but the DVD is not one of those, he is so unsteady in the Preslied at the end he sounds like he might choke, forget about the glorious line, sorry but Botha sings rings around him during this run,unless he was less than great yesterday, but in the rehearsal and premiere he was astonishing! Glad you liked Volle, I imagine he was great, and I am sorry had to miss him, but Morris was to my ears better this time than in 2001 or 2007 (last time I saw him). Levine is simply God’s gift to Wagnerians, he is astonishing without any preconditions, but that he did this after all he went through these past three years, is simply a miracle!

      • antikitschychick

        I’m doing pretty well queridisssimo marshiemark, gracias por preguntar :-D. Hope you’re well also and having lots of fun this holiday season. I will try and watch the encore and then go on YT and find clips of that 2001 performance. I’ve not seen/heard many recordings of Ben Heppner but I would like to since I’ve read many positive comments about him from when he was in his prime. Botha has a fabulous voice and seems to be a nice guy. I liked Annette Dasch in the Scala Lohengrin from, was it last year? with JK but that was the only thing I ever saw/heard her in.

        • Lohenfal

          I saw the Lohengrin with Dasch/Kaufmann on YouTube. It was the La Scala opening of Dec. 7, 2012. It was because Barenboim selected Wagner instead of Verdi to open the season that the Italian press went into a fit. Dasch was much better in that than in the Meistersinger yesterday. Could it be that Elsa suits her more, or that over 2 years she’s declined? In any case, this Eva was one of the weakest I’ve heard, ever.

          • antikitschychick

            oh it was 2012? I was way off then lol. I do remember that she had replaced someone else in that run. Or am I off on that too? In any case I hope it’s an unsuitability issue rather than a decline issue as she looks relatively young to be in decline.

            • Lohengrin

              She replaced Anja Harteros and Petersen (cover) within one day.

    • marshiemarkII

      Oh and question about Kränzle: didn’t he look very gay on the HD? in the theater he was a very very fey Beckmesser which, among his many characteristics (boshaft :-)), is not one I typically associate with him, quite the contrary, he is a kind of warped sexually frustrated animal along the lines of Alberich and the Rhinemaidens, so the gay part doesn’t quite belong, but maybe he was a Q and all he wanted was Pogner’s gold? (Rheingold ?!!?!?!?!!? :-))

    • Lohenfal


      One more compliment on your review. I didn’t see the HD, just listened to the radio, but your comments more or less coincided with my feelings. I was at the 2001 performance that served as the basis for the DVD and on the whole think it was better. Certainly Mattila was on a considerably higher level vocally than Dasch. Still, yesterday’s show was fairly good. If anyone wants to hear the audio only, it will be on demand at BBC Radio 3 (Opera on 3) for the next 4 weeks.

    • Milady DeWinter

      I too prefer the older Met performance with Mattila, Heppner, and Levine in top form and Morris, although even then an eminence grise, a superb Sachs.
      I have to say on Saturday Mr. Volle joined the ranks of excelling Sachs(es?),making up for a somewhat neutral first impression in Arabella last year(not his fault, as all the ladies and conducting spolied that run, imo).
      Saturday’s cast was mostly really good, especially Kranzle (who managed to actually sing and portray Beckmesser’s part without resorting to vaudeville antics), Cargill, and Appleby.
      Only Ms. Dasch left me wanting more, and that’s not because she’s not lovely or a fine actress, as she showed in Acts I and II.
      However, in Act III, Eva has to really step up, and has three things to accomplish: launch the Quintet with seamless, poised tone, cap said quintet with a B-flat of surpassing radiance and ease, and third, sing a big round trill in the post-Preislied peroration leading to the final magnificent chorus. She managed only the first of the three tasks with notable success.
      And I do have to make peace with Sachs’s final celebration of all things pure and German and just for the afternoon pretend that history stopped in 1550 or thereabouts. The score is so great and transformative on so many levels, that I just have to let that moment go, like a “person of interest”‘s fuzzed-out face in a news clip.

      • marshiemarkII

        My adored Milady, and you left Eva’s most important “aria” O sachs mein Freund we have so much discussed, it is sublimely glorious music requiring a radiance that completely eluded lovely Ms Dasch :-)
        Baci a te

        • Milady DeWinter

          Yes cara Marshie (welcome back!- e anche baci a te ) -- that was another missed moment of radiance too. I love this score so much. And Eva is really one of those “gotcha” roles -- nothing showy per se, but oh so much is revealed if a soprano isn’t absolutely in command of her radiance meter.

      • marshiemarkII

        I love this score so much.

        Oh milady adoree, this is so nice to hear, so much love for this most sublimest of all scores!!!!!!!! not only from you of course from all the other Qs who have participated in this discussions. Yessssss the O Sachs is truly heavenly music, but you have to have ***radiance*** to the power N, especially in those sublime As in “Preis” and “Zwang”, I love them even more than the big B in “Freund”. By the way carissssimo lohenfal, the most obvious Tristan-erotic motif (from the Liebesnacht) is when she sings Euch selbst, mein Meister, wurde bang’ at the very end of the peroration. Divine stuff!!!!!!!!

        • “By the way carissssimo lohenfal, the most obvious Tristan-erotic motif (from the Liebesnacht) is when she sings Euch selbst, mein Meister, wurde bang’ at the very end of the peroration.”

          Gawd, years of listening to this, and only when you point it out do I notice it — the T&I musical allusions are thick well before the unmistakable chord leading into Sachs’s “Mein Kind, von Tristan und Isolde…” (which of course also mentions King Marke and musically references his monologue — that much, at least, is impossible to miss).

          I am also glad to learn that I am an honorary queen in your estimation. (Or maybe not just honorary?)

        • marshiemarkII


        • Milady DeWinter

          Maestro Levine really slashed into that “Tristan chord” with a vengeance didn’t he? Jolted me right out of the chair.

        • marshiemarkII

          Yes carisssima Milady, and also he was uqually glorious the way he brought up the Tristan chord in the Flieder Monologue at the beginning of Act II, same thing, the strings just shimmered like the sharpest diamonds…..

  • A note on Ben Heppner: I *highly* suggest you follow his twitter feed. He live-tweets during the CBC Met broadcasts and if you tweet him he usually responds within a minute or two. His live-tweets are informative, funny, smart, and gracious. He mentioned during the Meistersinger HD that this was the first time he had heard Meistersinger since he sang the role. Must have been hard for him :( But his tweets were again, really fun and informative.

    Class all the way in retirement.

    • He is quite classy and he shares some funny anecdotes as well.

      He told an amusing story about being in the green room during a performance (it may have been FROSCH) that he was singing under Thielemann. He and his manager were talking in the green room. And Frau Thielemann (his mother) was also in there listening intently to the audio feed.

      Apparently, she was not amused at the conversation happening while she was trying to listen to the performance and shot them a couple of dirty looks. Finally, she was so upset that she made some kind of coughing sound and then threw her bottle of water in their direction. Heppner said that, had it not been for the cough alerting him, he wouldn’t have been able to move back in time and avoid getting his costume soaked.