Wagner Comes to Broadway
THE New York City Opera is presenting Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg in English this season at the New York State Theater, and in so doing it has put us in its debt both by the quality of its work and by making it possible to raise issues which might otherwise remain unconsidered.
The performance I saw represented the very pinnacle of the City Opera’s achievement and its contribution to our cultural life. Fresh young faces, attractive voices, excellent orchestral playing, authoritative conducting, and band-box staging: taken all together, these virtues conveyed a conception of the opera which was in the best traditions of the American musical theater. Wagner’s music was heavily cut, thereby enabling the performance to end a full fifteen minutes before the magic hour of midnight at which the orchestra begins to collect overtime. The cuts naturally telescoped the action of the opera and speeded up the pace of the performance. The opera in this way became more palatable to an audience not schooled, as was the German audience for which the piece was written, in the virtues and duties of obedience and endurance.
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