Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Meistersinger - Act Three - Week Three
And the winner is...?
Sartorial elegance is in the eye of the beholder. For some it's in the cut of a suit. For others it's the quality of the fabric. For myself it's the air work in a pair of inflatable trousers that counts. If the length of the final act of DMvN is anything to go by Wagner was blessed with buns of Rheingold. I shudder to think which region of the periodic table his bladder called home.
Having encountered the final hurdle in DMvN I am worried that a fair few people may miss the ending. It seems slightly topsy-turvy of Wagner, in my unqualified opinion, that after roughly two and a half hours of music he should go and tack on another two hours without an interval. What about the ice cream sellers? Does anyone care about them? Oh, the humanity! But seriously (lower the voice in your mind please) it's inevitable that for some people nature will call and the understandable policy of once you're out you're out comes into play. The result? They will have to see the rest of the action via a TV link. Anyone who has had to watch an opera in this way can attest that although you get to see and hear what's going on inside the hall it's a poor relation of the real thing.
This segues clumsily into the nub of this preamble. It may prove unfeasible to opera houses on this revolving rock of ours, but for the courtesy of patrons barred from re-entry and doomed to orbiting walkways in search of a TV screen, couldn't there be at least one glassed-in viewing area with sound pumped in so that people who've Jack Londoned it for a few minutes can see the performance with their own eyes, and not a camera that shrinks everyone to the size of blurred shrunken fingers?
I know that there would be difficulties in altering the interiors of houses for many reasons, but it would give off the right vibes in my book if an effort were made in this direction. It seems unfair that people who pay to see an opera are penalised because they don't try to surreptitiously pee in a polystyrene cup in public.
Just a thought.
***** Spoiler Warning *****
In Sinatra style I've reached the end of a journey through a drapes department, but I've still got one final song to sing. Ladies and Gentlemen, this one's for you.
The story so far…
Walther von Stolzing fancies playing Guess the Tune with Eva Pogner, daughter of Veit Pogner, Nuremberg's leading expert on Spandau Ballet. Standing in his way is Sixtus Beckmesser – Meistersinger and local council official in charge of bad singing. Also obstacalising Walther's path is the fact that he's not a Meistersinger – a pre-requisite of Veit Pogner for anyone wanting to marry his daughter. Adding leather to the fire is cobbler Hans Sachs, who despite his good intentions towards Walther and Eva makes a mess of things. He's also kinda, sorta, maybya got a thing for Eva. Thrown into the melting pot are the second lovebirds of the piece, David and Magdalena – too poor to afford surnames they are respectively Hans Sachs' apprentice and Eva's serf. At the end of the last act David, getting in touch with his feminine Neanderthal side, caused a medium sized riot when he wrongly suspected Beckmesser of playing Guess the Tune with his squeeze. In the ensuing fracas Sachs foiled an elopement bid by lovebirds # 1, culminating with him kidnapping Walther. Will Eva get her man? Will Beckmesser buy a reinforced lute? Does Hans Sachs ask Walther if he wants a nice Chianti with his fava beans? Read on if you dare…
The third act begins on a tad of a downer beat with Sachs complaining about everyone else, They're all mad but me, is the gist of what a middle-aged cobbler with no kingdom or big bullion bank balance to his name who thinks he has a chance with a svelte twenty something has to say. But a shred of sense escapes his leather sniffing addled mind and he opts out of adding Walther to the menu and begins to coach the young buck in the Meistersingers ways. Cue musical montage with Walther cobbling a hundred pairs of Ugg boots in an hour, sweat dripping off his furrowed brow, but ultimately coming up with a tune that has Sachs nodding sagely and offering to finish off the last pair of boots since he's noticed that Walther has made a right mess of the previous ninety-nine.
Against his doctor's advice, nursing a few broken ribs and a dislocated kneecap, Beckmesser limps into Sachs' workshop – presumably looking to bruise David's fists with his face once more. Luckily for David's knuckles Beckmesser finds the place empty. Deciding to become an outlaw he begins his crime spree by pocketing Walther's song as scribbled down by Sachs. Caught in the act he's surprised that Sachs waves away any royalties and offers the song to him – and the news that he's backing out of the Eva situation.
MGM then take over proceedings and delivers a large supply of Gouda as Walther serenades Eva and Sachs pretends to fix Eva's shoe. Is he distraught? Of course not. He jokingly pretends to be by complaining of his lot and then comparing himself to King Marke from Tristan und Isolde. But he's not bitter. No way is he. Not even if you think about what happens to Tristan at the end of the tale is Sachs not at all feeling put out.
MGM then add some Allgäuer Emmentaler to the Gouda with the finale at the Meistersinger Slam. Beckmesser is given first crack of the whip but his efforts are frankly **** and he storms off leaving the way for Walther to seal the deal and win the prize. This he does, though he still gets a bit huffy but is calmed by Hans Sachs who explains the importance of tradition, culture...Frankly I doubt if any of it registers in Walther's mind.
Ugg. Pass me a boot. Here endeth my journey to Nürnberg. Well, nearly. I'm going to take a few days to let my overall thoughts float to the surface on the piece. In the meantime those in the know continue to work on the show so to keep up with those on the go in the show keep your eyes open for a doe a deer a female deer? Haaaaaans! I need help with my rhymes!