Both Franz Hawlata (Sachs) and Klaus-Florian Vogt (Walther) have voices a size too small and while Michael Volle (Beckmesser
) sings handsomely he isn't funny.
As the opera gets under way, the older Wagner of this scenario becomes Hans Sachs; a younger Wagner morphs into Walther, Hermann Levi becomes Beckmesser
, and Cosima becomes Eva.
In the chapter in question we find the unequivocal claim that Beckmesser
"is nothing other than a caricature of Hanslick" and that "for Wagner, Hanslick was a Jew" (p.
He follows Michael Tanner's lead in insisting that Beckmesser
is a guild official in sixteenth-century Nuremburg, and simply should not be seen as a Jewish caricature.
The extraordinary beauty of The Mastersingers has been overshadowed, however--really from its first performances--by Wagner's characterization of Beckmesser
, a poetaster and scoundrel whom many have seen as an anti-Semitic caricature, and by Hans Sachs's stirring public exhortation to revere "Holy German Art," which has more recently acquired the taint of monstrous German chauvinism.
Wagner's writing of Beckmesser
's attempt at a prize song in Act III of The Meistersinger may also be seen as the pasrody of a synagogue chant: in Hermann Prey's performance on the Philips video from Bayreuth, it retains a considerable measure of dignity and beauty and is not sung as a joke.
He is noted for the roles of Billy Budd, Pellas, Eugene Onegin, Ulisse, Beckmesser
; for his interpretations of the great Mozart roles, Count Almaviva, Don Alfonso, Papageno, Guglielmo and, particularity, for his signature role, Don Giovanni.
The villain, Sixtus Beckmesser
, represents Wagner's archenemy, the forces that insist on adherence to doctrine.
Christopher Purves makes a delightfully obsequious Beckmesser
while Andrew Tortise shines as the apprentice David.
Bryn Terfel is wonderful as the warm-hearted cobbler Hans Sachs while Christopher Purves makes a thoroughly likeable 'baddy' as clerk Sixtus Beckmesser
. And they are given ample support by a full-throated chorus and the rest of the cast.