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Opera: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg

Royal Opera House

    For the ROH's Christmas treat, a six hour midsummer opera. Perverse you might think, until you hear Antonio Pappano's wondrous conducting of perhaps the most beautiful of all opera scores.

    He brings an Italianate delicacy, never remotely ponderous, and is easily the best thing about this otherwise pleasant but hardly compelling revival.

    The main problem is Wolfgang Koch's Sachs. Smoothly sung but utterly bland, with no sense of the passions that lie not-so-deep inside him. And although Simon O'Neill's Walther is well sung, he is. to be blunt, simply preposterous as a dashing young knight. Have we still not left behind the idea that what we can see on stage doesn't matter?

    Much the best singing and acting comes from Toby Spence, a boyish and flawlessly sung David.

    But this is a Meistersinger well worth six hours of anyone's time. To hear such a magical score performed with such filigree detail and charm is an opportunity that not to be missed.

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