Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Synopsis
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
The Day before Midsummer's Day (The Feast of St. John)
The knight Walther von Stolzing and Eva, daughter of Pogner, a goldsmith and Meistersinger, are in love. But Eva may only marry one of the Meistersingers; her father wishes to offer her as the victory prize in the singing contest at the next day's Midsummer carnival. Stolzing decides to become a Meistersinger immediately, although knowing nothing of their many strict rules. David, apprentice and member of the singing guild, explains them to him. The Meistersingers gather together and praise Pogner's plan which is intended to carry their art to new heights. But they turn down Hans Sachs's suggestion to allow the townspeople to join in choosing the victor. Stolzing asks to be accepted into the Meistersingers' guild. He must name his singing master, and sing an audition song. Beckmesser, the town clerk and himself a suitor of Eva, chalks up an endless list of faults in the knight's singing, and the Meistersingers decide he is not qualified to join them. Sachs, delighted by Stolzing's effusive song, cannot change their minds.
The apprentices are looking forward to the next day's carnival and make fun of David, because of his love for Magdalene, Eva's governess. Pogner has doubts about his plans; Eva waits restlessly for Stolzing. Sachs gives himself up to Stolzing's strangely beautiful love-song (Flieder-Monologue). Eva finds out about Stolzing's failure from Sachs, her trusted fatherly friend. At last Stolzing comes, and the lovers decide to flee: "Away into freedom!" But their plan is foiled. Beckmesser appears and wants to try out his contest song under Eva's window, where in fact, Magdalene is sitting, disguised in Eva's clothes. Sachs interrupts Beckmesser's serenade by cobbling and singing a loud song about his own love for Eva. In the end Beckmesser has to let Sachs hammer on the soles of the shoes every time he, Beckmesser, makes a mistake, an he makes a lot of them! David, supposing Beckmesser to be a rival, gives him a thrashing, and soon all the townspeople, disturbed by the noise, come to blows in a boisterous Midsummer's Eve free-for-all.
The Feast of St. John, Morning
David greets Hans Sachs on his nameday. Sachs, who has not slept during the night, reflects on the chaos of the previous night, and decides to help the love of Eva and Stolzing to victory in Nuremberg ("Wahn-Monolog", or "Philosophising on human follies"). Stolzing has spent the nigth in Sachs's house, and dreamt vividly. Sachs helps him to recast this dream into a love-song, with which he should court Eva at the tournament. Beckmesser finds the text, and takes it for a wooing song, written by Sachs. Surprisingly, Sachs gives him the text. Eva meets Stolzing at Sachs's house, and thanks the Meistersinger for his great but renounced love. Stolzing's new song receives a formal christening, David is quickly made a journeyman, and then they all set off for the carnival.
Later the Same Day
The townspeople and guilds are celebrating in the carnival fields. The Meistersingers gather together, and Sachs is ceremonially welcomed by the townspeople ("Wach auf", "Awake"). Then the singing contest for Eva's hand is opened. Beckmesser sings the song found at Sachs's house but which he does not comprehend, and mutilates it completely. His performance is greeted with laughter. Sachs arranges for Stolzing to present the song correctly, and all are captivated by Stolzing's passionate singing. But even as the Meistersingers wish for him to join their guild, he declines. Eva is enough for him. Sachs admonishes him, reminding that the art of singing and its custodians, the Meistersingers, should be treasured, and wins Stolzing. All thanks Hans Sachs, with great enthusiasm.
© Bavarian State Opera