Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
Wagner’s beloved comedy takes a joyful look at the art of music itself: what is wrong, what is right, and who decides.
The mastersingers are holding a high-stakes singing competition, and Walther needs to win. He’s an outsider, an upstart, and he doesn’t know the rules. But to win the hand of his beloved Eva, he must sing the greatest song ever made.
Enter Hans Sachs: mastersinger, cobbler, and the beating human heart of this opera. He offers the newcomer all his warmth and wisdom, knowing it will cost his own chance at love.
Wagner’s score demands a huge cast of exciting voices. Stefan Vinke performs as the upstart Walther, alongside Michael Kupfer-Radecky as Hans Sachs, Natalie Aroyan as Eva and Warwick Fyfe in the wonderful role of Sixtus Beckmesser.
After his triumphs with the Ring Cycle, Pietari Inkinen returns to Australia to conduct the magnificent score. Hear the Wagnerian forces of Orchestra Victoria and special guests in these performances, exclusive to Melbourne.
Kasper Holten’s extravagant staging for the Royal Opera House celebrates change: how the deepest of traditions can give way to something powerful and new. The sets and costumes are elaborate and spectacular.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a glowing testament to the wonder of human artistry.
The rhythm of life skips a beat when young Walther waltzes in to the mastersingers’ guild of Nuremberg.
There are rules in art, and in love, but Walther is breaking all of them in search of the greatest prize of all.
Soon, the very fabric of society frays under his melodious assault.
Let us make it easy for you with a lunch or dinner reservation—timed perfectly for interval—at The Members Lounge at Arts Centre Melbourne. You'll be served a themed set menu, including matched wine. Matinee and evening options available. View the menu. This dinner option is sold out!
Let us prepare an interval picnic for you with a dinner hamper. All you have to do is pick up your hamper from the Allegro Bar at interval (the Allegro Bar is near the entrance to the Playhouse theatre). Your hamper will include: a piece of roast chicken, a small risoni salad, a small garden salad, cheese, gourmet olives, artisan bread, assorted nuts, fruit, petit fours, and a glass of house wine. Vegetarian and vegan options are available on request, please send us an email after booking.
How to book
Simply add your preferred dining option to your cart after selecting tickets. If you already have tickets, sign in to your account to add dinner to your existing booking or call 03 9685 3700.
Travelling to Melbourne?
Make the most of your visit with Renaissance Tours’ exclusive four-day performance and accommodation packages with tickets to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Enjoy three nights’ accommodation in a conveniently-located hotel, a pre-performance talk with international Wagner expert Prof. Heath Lees and a choice of stimulating day-trips to museums, galleries and historic estates.
Visit renaissancetours.com.au for details.
|Revival Director||Dan Dooner|
|Set Designer||Mia Stensgaard|
|Costume Designer||Anja Vang Kragh|
|Lighting Designer||Jesper Kongshaug|
|Assistant Director||Matthew Barclay|
|Walther von Stolzing||Stefan Vinke|
|Hans Sachs||Michael Kupfer-Radecky|
|Sixtus Beckmesser||Warwick Fyfe|
|Veit Pogner||Daniel Sumegi|
|Fritz Kothner||Luke Gabbedy|
|Kunz Vogelgesang||John Longmuir|
|Balthasar Zorn||Joshua Oxley|
|Augustin Moser||Kanen Breen|
|Ulrich Eisslinger||Robert Macfarlane|
|Konrad Nachtigall||Andrew Jones|
|Hermann Ortel||Michael Honeyman|
|Hans Foltz||Gennadi Dubinsky|
|Hans Schwartz||Richard Anderson|
Performed in German with English surtitles.
Approximate timings, subject to change:
Act I – 90 minutes
Interval – 25 minutes
Act II – 60 minutes
Interval – 70 minutes
Act III – 120 minutes
A co-production between Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera Australia, and The National Centre for Performing Arts, Beijing.
The young upstart Walther sets out to beat the mastersingers at their own game, entering a singing competition to win the hand of his beloved Eva.
Through the wise counsel of the cobbler Hans Sachs and despite the jealous interference of Beckmesser, Walther sings a song that changes everything for this close-knit society.
“Kinder, schafft Neues!’” (Children, create new things!) Richard Wagner, 1852
Walther von Stolzing arrives in Nuremberg and falls in love with Eva Pogner. However, her maid Magdalene warns Walther that Eva’s father, Veit Pogner, has decided that Eva is to marry the winner of a song contest to be held the next day. As only members of the Mastersingers’ club can enter the competition, Walther decides to apply. Magdalene orders her boyfriend, David, who is an apprentice to the cobbler, Mastersinger and amateur composer Hans Sachs, to instruct Walther in the rules of Mastersinging. David is sceptical about Walther’s chances of success, and overwhelms him with details of the complicated rules.
Pogner and the other Mastersingers arrive for a meeting of their club and Walther asks to be admitted. Sixtus Beckmesser is the Mastersinger who oversees the rules of the club. He takes an instant dislike to Walther, seeing in him a potential rival for Eva’s hand, which he is hoping to win in the competition himself. Hans Sachs thinks that the competition as such is unfair, and that Eva should be allowed to choose her own husband. The others pay no attention to him.
Pogner introduces Walther, who tells the Mastersingers that he learnt his art not through academic study, but from Nature. Hans Sachs is impressed, but Beckmesser sneers at Walther’s earnestness. Walther is allowed to sing a trial song, with Beckmesser marking his song against the rules; Beckmesser interrupts before he has finished because of the sheer number of Walther’s ‘errors’. Sachs stands up for Walther and praises his originality, but he is shouted down by the other Mastersingers. Walther’s application to become a Mastersinger is firmly rejected.
The assistants of the Mastersingers gather on Midsummer’s Night to prepare for the annual celebration of the club the next morning, on St John’s Day.
Pogner has regrets about his decision and talks to Eva. He tries to reassure her: although she must marry a Mastersinger, she will be allowed to choose the winner of the competition. Magdalene snatches a few moments with Eva to tell her about Walther’s failure, and to warn her that Beckmesser is planning to serenade her.
Sachs muses on the power of Walther’s song, which makes him think about the nature of art. With Walther having been rejected, Eva worries about Beckmesser possibly being the only one who will sing in the competition, thus leaving her no real choice. She seeks out Sachs and suggests that he should enter the song competition himself to win her hand. Sachs is deeply in love with Eva, but decides instead to help the young couple overcome the rules set by Eva’s father.
Walther and Eva meet, and decide to elope. Eva persuades Magdalene to pretend to be her when Beckmesser comes serenading. As the couple are about to escape, Sachs realizes what is going on, and loudly sings so that Walther, Eva and Beckmesser are all aware of his presence. The eloping couple are forced to hide, and Beckmesser is stopped from singing.
Sachs and Beckmesser quarrel, but agree that Beckmesser can continue his serenade – although Sachs will mark any faults in it by striking with his cobbler’s hammer. Beckmesser begins his serenade again, and Magdalene – in Eva’s clothes – pretends to listen. Sachs is increasingly severe with Beckmesser so that the combined noise of Beckmesser’s singing, the blows from Sachs’s hammer and the men’s squabbling gradually wakes up everyone. David thinks Beckmesser is genuinely serenading Magdalene, and beats him up. A full-scale riot erupts and turns the midsummer night’s dream into a nightmare, which prevents the young couple from eloping. The hubbub subsides as the Nightwatchman arrives.
Sachs muses on the strange madness of the preceding night, and the forces that were released in himself and everyone else. David returns from delivering Beckmesser’s shoes and making his peace with Magdalene, and sings Sachs his latest song.
Walther comes in and tells Sachs of a wonderful dream that he has had. Sachs suggests he capture the dream in music, and he helps Walther to shape a song out of it. Sachs encourages Walther to enter the competition with his new composition, and the pair go off to make more preparations.
Beckmesser turns up, discovers Sachs’s jottings based on Walther’s song and thinks it is Sachs’s own new composition. When Sachs comes back, Beckmesser suggests that Sachs is planning to use the song in the forthcoming competition, and that the men are therefore rivals. Sachs denies this, and offers the song to Beckmesser to use if he wishes.
As a pretext, Eva comes to complain to Sachs about her new shoes. She encounters Walther, ready for the competition, and Walther completes his song for her. Sachs’s support makes Eva finally realize how much the older man loves her. Sachs summons David and Magdalene so that all five can celebrate Walther’s new song.
The people congregate for the annual celebration of the club and for the song contest, and the Mastersingers solemnly process in. The crowd salutes Sachs in particular with affection, singing one of his poems, and Sachs introduces the competition. Beckmesser takes the stand first. He has been unable to make sense of Sachs’s jottings, or fit a tune to his text, and makes a fool of himself. As the people mock him, Beckmesser angrily denounces Sachs for his bad song. Sachs calmly replies that the song was not in fact by him, and that the next competitor will perform it properly.
Walther sings his Prize Song, at first to the surprise of the Mastersingers and the crowd, but then to rapturous acclaim. Pogner grants him Eva’s hand, and proclaims him a Mastersinger. Walther angrily rejects the title. Sachs warns him about the dangers of forgetting the importance of tradition, and counsels him to let himself be celebrated and become a member of the prestigious club. Walther finally concedes, and the people praise Sachs for his wisdom.
Words by Kasper Holten
Let us make it easy for you with interval dining at Arts Centre Melbourne
Allow us to make your dinner reservation, timed perfectly for interval (evening performances): 7pm at The Members Lounge at Arts Centre Melbourne. You'll be served a themed three-course set menu for just $110, including matched wine.
Enjoy lunch during interval (matinee performance): 3pm at The Members Lounge. You'll be served a themed two-course set menu for just $80, with main and dessert, including a glass of wine.
Dinner only, not available at lunch
Smoked duck breast salad served with witlof, radish and orange
+ a glass of Domain Chandon NV, Yarra Valley, on arrival
Dinner and lunch
Pan-fried chicken fillet with German potato rosti, butter green vegetable and sorrel
+ a glass of Banks Road Chardonnay, Bellarine Peninsula
Dinner and lunch
Black forest gâteau served with a cherry compote
+ tea or filtered coffee
Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated, please send us an email after booking.
Simply add your preferred dining option to your cart after selecting tickets. If you already have tickets, sign in to your account to add dinner or lunch to your existing booking or call 03 9685 3700.