Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
As much as a nationalist interpretation characterizes the perception of Meistersinger to this day, one can scarcely fail to notice how much Wagner was influenced in this work by comedies of William Shakespeare, whom he revered all his life. Wagner composed a kind of overpainting of another Shakespeare comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, whose midsummer night is St. John''s Night, when the goblins are up to their tricks and the fate of lovers is decided. In both works, the story revolves around a father's choice of a husband for his daughter. In Shakespeare's play, Hermina immediatley decides to flee with Lysander, while Wagner's opera, Eva and Walther's attempt to elope does not take place until the second act. In Meistersinger, the focus is on practice of art by the craftsman, which is only a subplot for Shakespeare. Wagner borrowed the calling of the names of individual participants from the group of laborers in the first act of A Midsummer Night's Dream, although the venerable mastersingers are far removed from the failure of Shakespeare's workman. There is another analogy with A Midsummer Night's Dream, however, since the inept theatrical performance during the last act of this comedy, in which a play well known to the audienceis ridiculously bungled, corresponds to Beckmesser's comical courtship song. There is also such a character in Lortzing's opera Hans Sachs, but only Wagner makes him a true antagonist of Sachsand a brother to Shakespeare's Malvolio. "His song is full of nonsense", the people comment Wagner, while Shakespeare's Hippolyta describes the workmen's pla with the words: "this is the silliest stuff that I ever heard." (Kai Weßler)