Met loses Norwegian

Met loses Norwegian


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2016

Peter Gelb has conceded defeat in plans to bring Salzburg’s 2013 Meistersinger to the Met.

herheim mesitersinger

But Stefan Herheim’s production won’t fit the Met stage and the fashionable Norwegian director, 46, has broken up with his set designer, creating further snags. (More twists here).

So the Met’s going to have to borrow Harry Kupfer’s Meistersinger from Zurich.



  • Olassus says:


  • Stephen Owades says:

    According to the linked New York Times article, it’s La Scala that will be presenting the Harry Kupfer “Meistersinger” production from Zurich, while the Met will not do “Meistersinger” at all until a suitable production is available; they’ll do “Flying Dutchman” instead.

  • Jimbo says:

    They should have taken the WNO and ENO Richard Jones production. The Yanks would have loved that.

  • Brian B says:

    Talk about waste, Mr. Gelb. The Met has an incredibly beautiful production of Meistersinger which has been seen all of 37 times. It still looks great. And, bonus points, it actually resembles something Richard Wagner envisioned when creating the work.

    • Marshall says:

      Voice of reason-I just saw it-wonderful-people loved it.Only Only 37x you say-insane.

      You’re missing the point though-the point is to present opera so that it does not resemble what the composer had in mind-especially an opera like this that is specific to a time and setting-a real place. I saw a photo I guess in Opera News (I don’t know what production it is) of Kaufmann walking in modern dress carrying an electric guitar. I though, here it is, the emblematic image of what is wrong with opera, and its approaching demise.

      If I were an outsider to opera and read what was happening to it-these pretentious, and simple minded productions, this tyranny of these talentless directors-I’d assume opera people are of limited intelligence and are getting what they deserve.

      • Yes Addison says:

        Marshall, that was the Munich one (David Bösch). I haven’t seen it yet, but I heard a relay and it was musically spectacular. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to look at a still picture of something and say either “This is exactly what opera should be” OR that it’s emblematic of everything wrong with opera and a sign of its demise. Theater, you know, moves.

        • Marshall says:

          I’m glad that it was “musically spectacular”, and I’m glad that Kaufmann has gone back to roles like this, instead of his imitation of an Italian spinto tenor. Ordinarily I would agree with you-that you cannot judge a production from a still photograph-but I saw the medieval knight carrying an electric guitar case, and dressed like a rock singer so in this case I don’t need to see any more. I’m not as a matter of principle opposed to all experimentation, and re-interpretations-nor do I think every opera production has to be “traditional”-yet we now live in a world where every production must not be traditional, which is just as bad!–but when an opera is in an historic setting,and based in a real place, with historic characters, and the text is replete with specific and historic references, then I’d rather just listen to it, than be subjected to a second rate gimmick artist imposing their view on another artist’s work.

    • Yes Addison says:

      I could not disagree more. The Schenk/Schneider-Siemssen was flat, lifeless work in 1993, and it hasn’t aged well in revivals. I wonder, though, even if everyone were in agreement that it was great in 1993, how long afterwards it was supposed to keep getting hauled out, just to keep anything new from taking its place. Until it’s literally falling apart? Twenty years is a good long run, and it’s not as though it was packing them in in the most recent revivals.

      Of the other ones discussed here, Herheim’s is much better, and McVicar’s is delightful.

      • Marshall says:

        I cannot disagree even more, as you’ve read in my other reply.

        The Schneider-Siemssen was an exciting, colorful, gloriously realistic, joyful, and pleasing production (I liked the older one before it even more) Giving pleasure, as well as meaning is not an unacceptable experience. The proof that these production can work is that revivals allow different directors to try their hands, and it gives breathing room for the singing/actors to give us their wisdom from having spent years with the work. Regie imposes a tyranny on singers which reminds me of Hitchcocks’ statement about actors and cattle (though he never really said it that way.) In the last revival of this production we saw its flexibility when aging James Morris gave his honorable but traditional Sachs, and then they brought Volle in for the HD, who gave a much more modern, troubling interpretation, in the same production..

        WE’ll just have to disagree– and these modern productions are killing opera-not breathing life into it. And the pretension that opera was not drama with traditional productions-which would have fooled Chaliapin, Callas or Vickers, to name a few-is nonsense.. If Gelb had a little imagination and daring, which he doesn’t have, he’d bring back the old Met Ring (still in storage they say) tweak it, some new laser projections, a new director, and offer that when they revive the Ring, in place of the LePage mediocrity. He’d shock the world-but he’s too slow footed for that.

        • Yes Addison says:

          Volle, by the way, was also the Hans Sachs in the Salzburg Herheim production the Met now will not be getting. He did not seem inhibited or like cattle in that. In fact, he talked in an extra feature on the DVD about how invigorating the challenge of it was, and he admired Herheim’s intelligence and imagination. They have worked together on a few other operas.

          Although I did not find excitement in those Schenk Met Wagners and will not miss them (the Tannhaeuser, the first, was the best of them, but it stuck around too long), we can agree on one thing in this string: The Lepage Ring is the biggest miss of Gelb’s time. It just lay there, a vapid adventure story. But to me, that was a case of a paucity of ideas rather than wrong ones. Beyond all the work behind the technical whirring and creaking, it barely seemed directed in a meaningful sense. This isn’t something one can say about the work of Herheim or other modern directors I admire.

          I’ll just close by noting that Callas is one of the past admired singers you mention. You surely know what she thought about appearing in old productions Bing had not yet replaced, such as a then-30-year-old Norma, and a Lucia that had been new in the war years. You might say, “If Callas were alive today, she would never want to appear in this micromanaged Regietheater”; but I think it is just as defensible to say she would balk at going through the tired paces of a product of a vanished era, like the Zeffirelli Boheme or the Frisell Aida. I feel that both of those were good productions when new…35 and 28 years ago.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Irony of ironies: a stage made to accommodate the LePage “Ring” at Ozymandian expense can’t accommodate the Herheim “Meistersinger.”

    • Stephen Owades says:

      The linked New York Times article discusses the very different stage dimensions at Salzburg and at the Met in New York. The stage that was reinforced to accommodate the Lepage “machine” still opens out to the auditorium through the same proscenium as at the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House in 1966. Because the Met was purpose-built as an opera venue, its proscenium is of relatively “normal” width, about the same as at Covent Garden, while the Salzburg hall does double duty as a concert venue and has a much wider proscenium opening. A production like this “Meistersinger” that was designed to fill up the Salzburg stage will probably not fit in any other opera house.

  • Edgar says:

    A smaller MET could present Glyndebourne’s very fine production. The word of the oversized Met house continue unabated.

    • Edgar says:

      Woes, not word. Stupid autocorrect!

      • Gerhard says:

        Actually, the autocorrect function can be turned off. Some prefer to be angered by one’s own mistakes rather than by the ones committed by a machine in one’s name. But either way, a correction button would be a nice feature on this site …

    • Stephen Owades says:

      Note that the issue with this production is that the Met’s proscenium opening is too narrow to accommodate a production built to fill the even-larger stage of the Salzburg Grosses Festspielhaus. It’s not an issue of an oversized Met at all, and indeed a new “Meistersinger” will probably sell very well and fill lots of the available seats too.

  • J. says:

    Thank God, no regie for Met. McVicar’s production is way much better.

  • Holly Golightly says:

    I thought it was only Christian Thielemann who fell out with people when Wagner was on the menu. Now, who’d have thought…?

  • John Russell says:

    There IS a god!!