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Germany Richard Wagner

The Master-Singers of Nuremberg

Wow, I have just listened, complete, in four nights as it lasts over four hours, The Master-Singers of Nuremberg (original title, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg): an opera in three acts with music and libretto in German by Richard Wagner. I didn’t plan to post anything after I finished watching it but Hans Sachs’ final speech at the end of Act III—in fact, the culmination of the opera—made a huge impression on me:

Beware! Evil tricks threaten us; if the German people and kingdom should one day decay under a false, foreign rule, soon no prince would understand his people; and foreign mists with foreign vanities they would plant in our German land; what is German and true none would know, if it did not live in the honour of German masters. Therefore I say to you: honour your German masters, then you will conjure up good spirits! And if you favour their endeavours, even if the Holy Roman Empire should dissolve in mist, for us there would yet remain holy German Art!

After WWII the words I italicised above (‘if the German people and kingdom should one day decay under a false, foreign rule, soon no prince would understand his people’) became prophetic. But if Wagner’s poetry is right, as long as the German people do not break contact with the soul of their race,[1] they can still be saved.

A small piece of advice for those who want to be introduced to Wagner’s art.

Watching his operas on YouTube is not recommended: art loses most of its numinousness. You have to go to the fancy opera house with all the ritual that goes with it and see the characters in their live costumes. I had to watch it on YouTube because I hadn’t seen Die Meistersinger and could not afford the trip to Bayreuth. (Besides, in recent years those in charge of Wagner’s legacy have betrayed the theatrical staging.)

I would suggest that the initiate simply listen, repeatedly, the majestic overture to Die Meistersinger and the long, elegiac prelude to Act III that shows a pensive Sachs in the privacy of his home.

If this truly Aryan music has been assimilated, you could watch the final half-hour of the interpretation I watched tonight, where Sachs delivers his speech to his beloved people of Nuremberg. The problem is that the subtitles of this interpretation are in French and Spanish. I could understand the plot, but not everyone knows those languages.

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[1] Speaking of saving the German spirit from the foreign forces of occupation, Savitri’s book, which I am proofreading, will not be ready until February.

1 reply on “The Master-Singers of Nuremberg”

Something important happened in my mind after seeing this opera, at least on a big screen television, that I won’t confess for the moment (suffice it to say that it has to do with my Daybreak Press print books).

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