A Conversation with Stephen A. Brown:
Die Meistersinger - Wagner’s Counter-Revolutionary Failure
An archived video recording of this event can be viewed here, on our YouTube channel.
The post-event survey results are available here.
Nun sang er, wie er musst’, und wie er musst’, so konnt’er’s.
(‘He sang as he must; and as he must, so he could.")
- Act II, Fliedermonolog
Please join us as Stephen A. Brown explores one of the greatest operas in the standard repertoire - and Wagner's only canonic comedy!
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Die Meistersinger was first conceived by its composer as he was awaiting the premiere of Tannhäuser in 1845, intended to be quickly thrown together as a short, light and cheap comic opera - a cash cow in which the tenor loves the girl, tenor almost loses girl, tenor wins girl. In a later gestation it was intended as an antidote to the musical revelations of Tristan und Isolde - a look backwards rather than forwards to "the art-work of the future" ("Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft," as Wagner called it in his 1849 essay). When the completed opera finally emerged in 1868, it was to become, arguably, one of the most musically and dramatically complex, multi-faceted, largest, longest works in the standard operatic repertoire, and one of the most popular. How, and why, did Wagner's only completely original creation become, in its own way and in the composer's own estimation, his most theatrically ground-breaking work?
About Stephen A. Brown: A Londoner with a degree from the Royal College of Music, Stephen A. Brown studied at the London Opera Centre, then the Young Artists' Programme for the Covent Garden Opera, before moving on to what was at that time the National Theatre of Great Britain. He later worked at the Metropolitan Opera in New York for 38 years, first as Stage Manager responsible for over seventy new productions, revivals and telecasts (including Wagner’s Ring cycle), before becoming Company Manager for 20 years, and a frequent Met Opera Broadcast commentator and quiz panelist. Since retiring in 2017, he has been teaching and lecturing in America and Europe, and is a regular contributor to Opera magazine.