While the Metropolitan Opera is in the midst of a run of Der Fliegende Holländer, it seems with the cancellation of the proposed Stefan Herheim production that Met audiences might have to wait a very long time for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. So “Trove Thursday” jumps in with a broadcast conducted by Herbert von Karajan featuring Gundula Janowitz, René Kollo and Karl Ridderbusch.
Although Karajan might be identified with Meistersinger due to his two commercial recordings—one from the first postwar Bayreuth Festival in 1951, the other recorded in Dresden in 1970—it doesn’t seem as if he conducted the work very often. After that single run in Bayreuth, he performed it just once during his tenure at the Vienna Staatsoper and then five more times during the 1974 and 1975 Salzburg Easter Festivals.
His ’74 Salzburg cast differs considerably from that later EMI recording from just four years earlier—they share only Kollo and Peter Schreier as David. Ridderbusch has moved up from Pogner to Sachs and Janowitz, a frequent Karajan artist, has taken over as Eva. And, of course, one also gets the Berlin Philharmonic rather than the Staatskapelle Dresden.
I have to admit that I first got this performance because I wanted to hear Janowitz. While conceding that it must strike many as a very odd voice, I came to be her big fan very early in my opera-listening life. It doesn’t seem that she sang Eva very often—just 9 times from 1967-1979 at the Vienna Staatsoper, her home theater. I hope to post another Janowitz performance in the coming months.
As much as I enjoy this and other recordings of Meistersinger, it remains the one Wagner opera I always would much rather see than just listen to.
Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Salzburg Easter Festival
7 April 1974
Eva: Gundula Janowitz
Magdalene: Kerstin Meyer
Walther von Stolzing: Rene Kollo
Hans Sachs: Karl Ridderbusch
Beckmesser: Guenther Leib
Pogner: Louis Hendrikx
David: Peter Schreier
Kothner: Jef Vermeersch
Vogelgesang: Dieter Ellenbeck
Nachtigall: Martin Egel
Zorn: Martin Schomberg
Eisslinger: Wolfgang Appel
Moser: Martin Vantin
Ortel: Hans Christian
Schwarz: Hannes Jockel
Foltz: Alois Pernesdorfer
Nightwatchman- Nikolaus Hillebrand
Conductor –Herbert von Karajan
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