Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg Herbert von Karajan
Full Opera Recording "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg". Theo Adam, René Kollo, Geraint Evans, Peter Schreier, Helen Donath, Ruth Hesse. Recorded by Staatskapelle Dresden and the Chorus of the Staatsoper Dresden Conducted by Herbert von Karajan (EMI, 1970).
This is an opera in three acts. It is among the longest operas performed today, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich on 21 June 1868. The conductor at the premiere was Hans von Bülow.
The story is taking place in Nuremberg during the mid sixteenth century. It was an Imperial City and one of the Renaissance centres in Northern Europe. The story is about the real-life guild of Meistersinger (Master Singers), an association of amateur poets and musicians, from the middle class and master craftsmen. The Mastersingers developed a craftsmanlike approach to music-making with a complicated system of rules for composing and performing songs. One of the main characters, the cobbler-poet, Hans Sachs, is based on an actual historical figure: Hans Sachs (1494–1576), the most famous of the historical Mastersingers. This opera has a unique place in Wagner's works. It is the only comedy among his mature operas apart from Das Liebesverbot (based on Sakespeare's Measure for Measure)It is the only mature Wagner opera to be based on an entirely original story. It is also the only one of Wagner's mature operas in which there are no supernatural powers. Wagner compromised on the very theories that he had rallied against in his essays such as arias, choruses, a quintet, rhymed verses and a ballet too. Die Meistersinger is a composition in which music is a central part of the narrative.
Wagner had the Bayreuth Festspielhaus built with many unique designs. It was here that the Ring and Parsifal received their premieres and where his most important stage works continue to be performed in an annual festival that are managed by his descendants. His thoughts on the contribution of music and drama in operas were to shift again and he reintroduced conventional forms into his stage work in this opera.
After going through several versions of this opera, I have come to the conclusion that this is the definitive version followed by Horst Stein and Bayreuth Festpielhaus.