Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1862)
Richard Wagner (1831 – 1883)
Richard Wagner is renowned for his large-scale “music dramas” that revolutionised opera by synthesising the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts in one art form in which the music was subsidiary to the drama. Always controversial, most recently for his anti-Semitic sentiments, his lifetime was marked by political exile, wild love affairs and repeatedly staving off his creditors.
Die Meistersinger is a comic opera highlighting the struggle between the old and the new, in many ways epitomising Wagner’s own life. Based on real-life characters, it tells of Walther’s attempt to gain entry to the Mastersingers Guild with the aid of Hans Sachs, and thereby win the hand of Eva. The lengthy Prelude was completed six years prior to the opera, and introduces each of the themes of the main protagonists – the stately Guild, the entry of the Mastersingers, Walther’s prize song and his love for Eva. The busy theme of the arrival of the apprentices leads to a fugue that eventually results in all the themes being interwoven in a masterly exhibition of compositional skill, before the opening themes return in a grand conclusion.
Performed: 14 June 2015