The death of Götz Friedrich deprived not only Berlin's Deutsche Oper of its intendant but the opera world as a whole of one of its most imaginative directors, so it is good to have the documentary record or one of the German director's last major Wagnerian productions."
"The Deutsche Oper Berlin created a sensation with its 1993 production of Wagner's only comedy. The same cast was reassembled for the 1995 revival, which was filmed live and presented here. The opera is unique in the composer's output in that it portrays regular people (i.e. non-regal and neither magical nor supernatural) with passionate aspirations. To succeed on stage, the work needs to project real-people authenticity and blend this quality with very high artistic standards. This Berlin production succeeds most admirably. It could be regarded as the definitive audio-visual presentation of Die Meistersinger for years to come. As such, it is a fitting memorial for two notable men of the theatre. Both director Gotz Friedrich and the great Swedish tenor, Gosta Winbergh, are lost to us now. Winbergh's portrayal of Walter is magnificent. He sings from the heart without any hint of vocal strain. The opera really revolves around the character of Hans Sachs, and Wolfgang Brendel brings him to life with common sense and warm sympathy. Elke Wilm Schulte's Beckmesser is the epitome of bureaucratic self-importance and Ewe Peper is very convincing as the apprentice, David. Eva, sung by Eva Johansson, is more assertive than customary, but this works wonderfully. The remainder of the cast and chorus are excellent. The conducting of Frubeck de Burgos is fine-tuned in support of the singers and he extracts the most delectable, chamber-like textures from the score. This DVD set will appeal to both seasoned Wagnerians and novice collectors looking for an entry point to the composer's stage works."