This is one of the two best Meistersingers I've ever seen! Here's why I think so:
I never thought any production could approach the 1984 Bayreuth production, starring Bernd Weikl as Sachs, Hermann Prey, as Beckmesser, and Siegfried Jerusalem as Walter. This one may just be up there in the top two. Here, in a 2008 production by Daniel Barenboim, Robert Holl is Sachs, Andreas Schmidt is Beckmesser, and Peter Seiffert is Walter.
All three sing and act in a way that keeps you riveted to the story. The big bonus here is Eva--the prize in the singing contest. In all previous productions, Eva has been too fat, too old, or can't sing. In this one, Eva is sung and acted by the very attractive Emily Magee, who is certainly a prize worth winning.
For those who are new to this opera--Wagner's happiest opera--the story centers on a young man who comes to Nurenberg to study the art of music. He falls in love with the beautiful Eva, who is to be promised as the prize in a singing contest. All sorts of complications develop, and Wagner takes advantage of the opportunity to comment, through his characters, on the purposes of good music and how the creative artist goes about writing music.
Imagine being one of the critics of Wagner's day, who had viciously and repeatedly attacked him in the media, and then found yourself as a laughable, ridiculous character in Wagner's next opera! Such is the case here, where strikes back at his critics by inventing the character Sixtus Beckmesser, a pedantic, sycophantic, officious and tedious bore. Richard Wagner was commenting on the rigidity and close-mindedness of the music critics of his day. The opera makes the point that minds must be kept open to new ideas, while still retaining an understanding of what makes "classical" classic.
It's a nice touch that there are subtitles in German as well as English, Spanish, and French.
Sound is PCM Stereo, DD 5.1, and DTS 5.1. Artistic supervision was under Wolfgang Wagner, yes, he's Richard Wagner's grandson!
The Johannestag festival music is some of the brightest and happiest, so much so that those who think Wagner is always heavy and ponderous, will scarcely believe their ears. Costumes and scenery are lavish and authentic. The various guilds are dressed differently and it is easier to imagine their rivalry.
Again, the acting and singing are superb, and a beautiful Eva, who can sing and act is icing on the cake. Even for those who think they don't like Wagner: Give this Meistersinger a try. It has love, sublimely beautiful music, and a story with a happy ending. It's magnificent!