I feel that there are probably enough forumites going to opera and classical concerts to support a separate thread, so here it is. Let me start with tonight's Die Meistersinger in ROH: K. Holten's new production received mixed comments. I personally think it works partially; at least it is not ugly: most of time it's viewable. (Unlike the awful Turandot, yes, you will see that again soon) It is becoming a common fashion at least in europe that directors simply ignore composers' instructions for the sake of it. Covent garden is not at the frontier of this fashion but it is still part of Europe (sorry, it is until this island moves near Africa); ROH often try to push a little bit without costing too much money.... occasionally it's dreadful, but this Meistersinger is partially OK. First the good parts; I quite like the midsummer night dream scene at the end of Act 2 (as photo). It's a colourfully good idea. When I was a little bit uncertain why they need to have those rear-entry position couples on the stage (again, see the photo), the beautiful voice nachtwächter (custom as Pan, sung by David Shipley) really touched me. The second good part is the stage setting of the scene 2 of Act 3. I think it manages to fit everyone in a limited stage space without looking messy. Not much to talk about for the first part of Act 2 and Act 3. The bad part; an awkward ending of the whole opera. In Holten's setting of Act 1, the meeting of Masters becomes a black tie event where ladies have to go to another room when men handling things. Actually, the marriage of Eva was decided first by her father and then many other men.... Holten probably wanted to talk a little bit about this but we didn't see it emphasised or delivered until the puzzling ending. In the ending, Eva suddenly gets upset about her lover, but you don't get why she's upset. If she has to behave like a 13, then the equally childish Walther should pair her well. And Hans Sachs suddenly becomes an active nationalist. But that was not written in the lines; I am not saying Wanger did not have his German supremacy agenda, but if you listen to and read 'Wahn, wahn, überall wahn', Hans Sachs is not at all a mean anti-immigrants old country man. Actually, this monolog especially ring true nowadays and you can say it goes against populism. The way Holten design the ending has no base in how Wagner wrote it; the whole Die Meistersinger is surrounding Hans Sachs, a wise man, but still a human beings with all sorts emtions from interaction with people; thus the ending shocked the audience, not by the boldness of the idea, but by how the personality change of key person comes from nowhere. It is rather sad that this happens at the very end of the opera therefore gives an unsatisfactory feeling for us to bring home. Another unsatisfaction tonight was the suddenly withdraw of Bryn Trefel for the final scene. His voice was cracking and sometimes sounded like yelling in Act 3 scene 1; while he still kept his pitch and volume, and he kept the quientet well. By scene2, the Sachs receiving 'wacht auf' was not him anymore. Trefel was singing Wotan and Hollander here and there, but he only picked up Hans Sachs around 6 years ago with WNO. I went to Cardiff to listen to him. Regardless of his German pronounciation, his voice and performance gave the usually too smart Hans Sachs some roughness, which is good, in the end Hans Sachs is a shoemaker. On the other side of it, he does not have the delicacy of tones which the music inconsequently requires. Nevertheless, his voice is big and warm, can dominate the scene and pleasant to hear, which his substitute tonight unfortunately can not do. From the first time he sang this role in Cardiff, his voice sounded in stress in Act 3. I think Hans Sachs is a bit too high for his voice range, and Act 3 is a killer. He sounded like yelling in the end. In that year, WNO brought the whole set to BBC proms, again I was there standing for 5 hours. RAH is an even bigger hall, and he simply lower an octave for that killing high note at his final statement. Years passed, I think his voice is only getting older. Saying that, I appreciate how he acts with his voice. Another Welsh, tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones, did a decent job to deliver a young and angry Walther. I have no complain because I know how often we have bad Walther even in CDs. Eva act like a physically over grown 13 years old, but I don't know if that's how the director wants. David and Magdalene did a great job; Beckmesser was a true voice actor and although I usually disagree the attempt to ridiculous this role, I think his acting was brilliant. ROH orchestra always play very well for Papano. I am not a big fan for Papano's Wagner after listening his Tristan: orchestra played perfectly for him, but it doesn't sound right at all.... Tristan is not Don Carlo! For me he has a bit issue about the orchestral part of Wagner works, or actually any German opera.... Anyway, Meistersinger is not Tristan, so it can work in a sense that he successfully put the emssemble together and faithfully support the story (in Tristan's case, music itself has to flow on its own logic even without the story), therefore, the least impressive parts of his conducting were the two great orchestral pieces: Act 1 and Act 3 prelude. It is always a pleasure to see Wagner or R. Strauss live in opera house. I do hope I can have more chances i the future, here or in other cities.