Pogner offers his daughter Eva as the prize in a singing competition,with three suitors, Beckmesser, young Von Stolzing,and the aging Sachs. Naturally, Von Stolzing wins and rejects the prize. Wagner created a wise Sachs, he himself often was not and was a walking contradiction.He would have disapproved of Hitler. His wife Cosima,a French born woman,who was more German then them,became more rigid after Richards death. Winifried a English lady, wife of Siegfried, who was a mums boy, fanced Hitler and from 1923 onwards sometimes visited Wahnfried.The children Friedland, who should have taken over the festival, but did not. Wieland, Wolfgang, and Verena, have provided the heirs.Wieland, who became the director and set the tone for advanced staging, produced Iris,Daphne,Wolf Siegfried,who directed operas in his own right. Nike, the intellectual, who could also direct. Wolfgang the Administrator,married to a ballet dancer Ellen, produced,Eva and Gottfried. The person who was the driving force behind Wieland was Gertrud. After Wielands death, Gertrud and her children were shut out. Wolfgang divorced Ellen and married Gudrun. Katharina was born in 1978. Gudrun died in the late 1990's. However, before Wolfgangs death, Katharina an only child became director of the festival, along with Eva, now the administrator.Verena has a son called Wieland, who now is heavily involved with the Saltzburg festival. So if Eva and Katharina were hit by a No 9 bus, there are many Wagners who could take over. Many families have fights and hatreds,the Wagner family had a composer and a Hitler. Just look at your own family and see if they are perfect.
Wolfgang knew he was not much of a stage designer,like his brother. He brought in Chereau Ring which also attracted adverse publicity, now much beloved. Kupfers dark minimalist modern Ring, and so forth. Katharina grew up in this atmosphere. She also learnt her craft from Barenboim and other opera houses.This is one opera that Bayreuth has been frightened to change. Wieland attempted to, but the audiences at Bayreuth shunned it. Now Katherina has taken the bull by the horns and in a subtle and unsubtle way, told the audience where to shove their conservatism. Because this opera is about rules and the changing of them.The new always comes up against the old guard. She has made some observations about the art establishment and society in general.I also think that includes her family subconsciously. Sachs the free thinker, able to be so, because he is a poet,has barefeet, becomes a businessman wearing a suit and shoes. Von Stolzing the fiery artist, who incorporates everyone into his vision of art. Who never changes his style, thus not growing, takes the easy way out and becomes a mainstream artist, because it gives him the promise of wealth.That is why he ends up wearing a suit.Beckmesser,the bureaucrat, changes the most,shuns mass taste, and becomes the most modern artist of all.At the end Beckmesser looks at Sachs as he is glorifying German art, shacks his head in disbelief and walks away. There are little touches, like the riot, where one of the crowd waves around a cast of Picasso's painting of his lady friend. The crowd on the balcony waving Warhol Campbell soup cans. References to the new. The march where we have oversized heads of Schuller, Goethe,Beethoven Wagner, Lizst, and Mozart, doing a can can, in front of a tied up Sachs. Then some ladies with equally big heads dance and the former attempt to have sex with them. Those who created this farce come on stage, bow to the audience,are thrown into a dust bin , with bits and pieces and burnt. In otherwords, out with the jolly old staging. Here Katherina is mocking herself. She has deliberately been provocative and almost childish for a reason. Call it unsubtle, but it is clever. Other touches like the huge soprano,making gestures at a knight, is a dig at the past, while Von Stolzing sings his Mastersong. It is very funny. The crowd sits in rows in the dark, while Sachs is singing about pure Germany art, as if to say, this is our recent past. Watch out. I cracked up with laughter. She has an odd ball sense of humour. I cannot wait for her Tristan und Isolde 2015. I compared this to my Levine Nurnberg. The singing and costumes were great, but Levine conducting was slow. I also found it tame compared to this version. It has youthful vitality and you can see the singers were having a ball. Of course the audience did not like her production, they are too stuffy and as we say in Australia, up themselves. Being an only child like Kat is, I know exactly where she is coming from. She is a strong willed person, with ideas of her own. Is is about time some of the opera going public woke up to itself. I believe kat, is trying to build bridges with Gottfried. He was treated very badly by Wolfgang.
Now for the singers. The conductor of the Bayreuth Festival and Chorus Seb Weigle tempi are fast and right for this opera. Forget the complaints about him,he is good. What Katherine needs is a conductor who is permanent. She is thinking of Thielmann, but I think a woman like Simone Young, who has conducted the Ring in Hamburg, would be right for her. The Sachs Franz Hawlata is fine, better then Morris in the Levine Nurnburg piece. Von Stolzing has a high tenor voice, which is unusual, but right for this part and brings it alive, as does Hawlata. Eva Michaela Kaune,has a distinctive voice with an emotional catch to it. Veit Pogner, is a distinctive Bass. All the parts are well taken and sung. Take no notice of the criticism, not even on Wagneropera.net. They must realize that Katharina was getting at them. I wonder what old Wolfgang thought of it all. He was at the performance and artistic director. He died a while later. If I had been at that performance and the oafs around me were booing, I would have used foul language, as only a racing cyclist and ex ultra distance runner can. This is good, if you dont like modern staging, keep away from it and keep your comments to yourself