Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
  Home :: Characters :: Music Meistersinger  
  Act 1  
The Church.
  Scene 1: Nürnberg, in the middle of the 16th century. In the church of Nürnberg, the service ends. As Eva and her chaperone Magdalene are leaving the church a young nobleman, Walther von Stolzing, comes near and asks Eva wether she is already engaged (they have been eyeing each other during the sermon).

Walther hears about the song contest tomorrow on Johannistag (day of John the Baptist), the winner may ask Eva's hand. Only a Mastersinger can participate, which he is not. The same evening he wants to take an exam before the council of Mastersingers, so he can compete for his beloved Eva.
  Scene 2: David is the lover of Magdalene and apprentice of Hans Sachs, the shoemaker. Hans Sachs is a famous Mastersinger on account of his beautiful songs and sublime poems. David, who is in the process of becoming a Mastersinger himself, will teach Walther the rules of song and poetry. Time, however, runs short and Walther rather trusts his own talent.

Scene 3: The apprentices clear the room and the Mastersingers enter. Veit Pogner, goldsmith, announces a song contest to be held the next day. As price he offers his only daughter Eva. The glory and respect for the german Masters will increase by such a noble price. The winner will be appointed by the Mastersingers. Hans Sachs disagrees and says the people's vote should also count, but the other Mastersingers decide differently. Naturally Eva has to agree, but may not choose another than the one appointed by the Mastersingers.

On advocacy of Veit Pogner, Walther may take an exam to be admitted to the song contest. No more than 7 mistakes are allowed. One Mastersinger will be performing the task of 'Merker'. The 'Merker' keeps track of the errors by marking them with chalk on a blackboard. Sixtus Beckmesser, the towns clerk is 'Merker'. Unfortunately Beckmesser will be competing for Eva's hand and thus considers Walther his rival. Walther's song sounds familiar but also new, soon 7 errors are made according to the intricate rules of the Masters. Despite the arisen commotion, Walther finishes his song and leaves, his pride offended. The Mastersingers disapprove of Walther's song, only Hans Sachs appreciates its new merits.
Act 2

Scene 1: It is evening in old Nürnberg. David closes the windows of Sachs' house, the other apprentices do the same. Meanwhile they excitedly sing about tomorrow's holiday. Magdalene inquires about the young nobleman, whereupon David recounts the bad news. The apprentices tease David with his love for Magdalene, till Hans Sachs puts David to work in his workplace.

Scene 2: Eva and her father return from an evening stroll. Veit Pogner wants to talk to Hans Sachs, but changes his mind. He is confused about today's events. Pogner asks his daughter wether she is happy, since tomorrow she may choose her husband. Eva asks if he has to be a Mastersinger. Pogner answers affirmative, but of her own choice. When her father enters the house, Magdalene tells of Walther's failure. With a sad mind Eva decides to visit Sachs, he is like a father to her and she is very fond of him. Maybe he can tell her more.

Scene 3: Hans Sachs checks if David has properly closed down his atelier, and sends him off to bed. When Sachs sits down to start work on Beckmesser's new shoes, he smells the lovely scent of the elder and dreams away in filosophical reverie.
  Scene 4: Eva stops by at Sachs' workplace and greets the Master. Hans Sachs is pleased to see her, and asks what gives him the honour. He is a widower and Eva asks wether he will participate in the song contest, Sachs answers he is too old for her. Eva wants to know what happened during the exam of the young nobleman, whereupon Sachs tells her he was turned down. He, who is born as Mastersinger, is not favored by those who laboriously study to reach that goal. Magdalene shows up to collect Eva, Veit Pogner worries where his daughter might be at this late hour. Ill humored Eva leaves Sachs. Magdalene delivers Eva a message from Beckmesser, he intends to serenade her this evening.

Scene 5: Eva and Magdalene arrive at Pogner's house, as suddenly Walther comes around the corner. Eva tears herself away from Magdalene and runs into Walther's arms. Together they plan to escape towards freedom, but are blocked by the night watch, who makes his round to announce the hour is ten o'clock. Quickly, Walther hides behind the lime tree in front of Pogner's house, Eva enters the house. Moments later she reappears in Magdalene's clothes, but now Hans Sachs (who has overheard their conversation) bars their route of escape, by lighting the street from his workplace.

Scene 6: Sixtus Beckmesser appears at the scene, Walther and Eva are trapped. They hide in the thicket near Pogner's house. Beckmesser is eager to win Eva's hand in tomorrow's contest. The young nobleman is no longer a threat, and with new confidence he intends to serenade Eva. He installs himself under her window, opposite the workplace of Hans Sachs. Sachs comes up with a plan, and hammers away on Beckmesser's new shoes just at the moment he wants to commence his serenade. Agitated, Beckmesser asks Sachs wether he, as fellow poet, doesn't want to hear his song. Sachs agrees, but he also must finish Beckmesser's new shoes. Sachs has a great idea, he will act as 'Merker' and will indicate the errors in the song with a hammerblow. Reluctantly, Beckmesser agrees and starts to sing. His song contains quite a few errors and to his great frustration, Sachs constantly interrupts him with hammerblows.
Night Watch.
  David, awakened by Beckmesser’s song, discovers him serenading at Pogner’s house. David assumes he courts Magdalene, and furiously flies at his throat. Aroused by all this midnight clamour, the neighbours come out angrily to vent their frustrations in a big fight. Walther and Eva want to sneak away amidst all confusion, but their way is blocked by Sachs, who watches them. Sachs pushes Eva in the arms of Pogner, who just steps through his doorway. He himself grabs Walther’s arm, and pushes David towards his workplace. When eventually the night watch makes his round to announce the eleventh hour, everyone goes back to sleep and all becomes quiet again.
  Act 3

Scene 1: It is the morning of Johannistag, the sun shines. In his workplace, Hans Sachs is reading and contemplating last night events. Discretely, David enters with a basket containing decoration ribbons and flowers for today's festivities and also some food. David marvels at Sachs’ generous frame of mind, despite the fact he instigated last night’s fight. Sachs asks David about the significance of Johannistag, after providing a satisfying answer he sends David away to dress himself appropriately. Sachs reflects upon the often careless behaviour of man: ‘Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!'.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist.

Day to honour John the Baptist, who announced the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He was born on the 24th of June, six months prior to the birth of Jesus. The Johannisnacht (night of John) is the shortest night of the year and in the old days it was celebrated as Midsummer's Night. The name 'Hans' is a modern version of Johannis, so it's also the name day of Hans Sachs.
  Scene 2: The young knight Walther comes into the workshop and tells Sachs of a wonderful dream he had last night. Sachs helps Walther to translate his dream into a Mastersong, the first two parts succeed excellent. Touched, Sachs declares; this is truly a Mastersong, only the third and last part is lacking. Sachs advises him to to hold on to his vision, the inspiration to add the final verse will spontaneously come at the right time and the right place. Sachs takes Walther to the adjacent chamber to select the proper clothing for today's festivities.

Scene 3: Beckmesser is dressed up for today's celebration. Still limping, from David's beating of last night, he furtively glances inside Sachs' workshop. Nobody is there, so he enters the workshop and discovers the sheet of paper on which Hans Sachs has recorded the song of Walther. Thinking the song is from Sachs, he angrily puts the paper in his briefcase. He considers Sachs the instigator of yesterday's fighting, in order to incapacitate him. Thus, Sachs schemes to win Pogner's daughter.

Hans Sachs enters and Beckmesser vents his suspicions. Sachs however denies he wants to participate in the song contest and donates Beckmesser the paper, so he is no thief. Beckmesser is delighted. With a poem of Sachs and his own melody, he will win Eva. He gratefully thanks Sachs, and hurries home to compose the song. Hans Sachs considers the whole affair as very fortunate, it perfectly fits into his plot. Then he sees Eva coming.
Scene 4: Eva enters the workshop in gleaming white clothing. Her new shoes do not fit well. As Sachs checks why the shoes do not fit, Walther enters in shiny costume. Eva and Walther stare at each other, while Sachs concerns himself with Eva's shoes. Walther praises Eva's beauty in a song. Eva, moved to tears, presses herself against Sachs' chest. Walther shakes Sachs' hand in gratitude.

When also Magdalene and David enter in festive clothing, Sachs baptises the new Mastersong of Walther. Hans Sachs and Eva Pogner will act as foster parents, Magdalene and David as witnesses. An apprentice may not act as witness and so Sachs promotes David into a partner, thereby authorising him to marry Magdalene.
  The name of the newborn will be 'Die selige Morgentraumdeut-Weise'. Eva, Sachs, Walther, David and Magdalene praise the wonderful morning, that has brought them so much happiness. Then, Sachs sends everyone to the meadow, where the song contest will take place. David closes up the house.

Scene 5: A meadow at the bank of the river Pegnitz. Citizens with women and children, apprentices, partners, and masters are together in a festive atmosphere. The shoemakers guild just arrives and receives a warm welcome, followed by the guild of tailors, on their turn followed by the guild of bakers. As the girls of Fürth arrive the apprentices and partners start a folk dance, until the Mastersingers arrive. The banner of the Mastersingers shows King David with his harp and all people present, greet the Mastersingers. When the Mastersingers have taken their seats on the stage, the people sing in honour of Hans Sachs: 'Wach auf, es nahet gen Tag... '. Touched, Sachs thanks the people for this tribute and solemnly announces the song contest.

As the oldest contestant, Beckmesser begins. He recreated Walther's poem into a nonsensical mixture of words, a growing hilarity arises among the audience. Infuriated by this public humiliation, Beckmesser points to Hans Sachs as maker of the poem. To everyone's amazement, Sachs answers he gladly would have been the poet, because recited properly, the song is of unprecedented beauty. Hans Sachs calls upon the poet to reveal himself, by singing the song the right way and to the right melody. Walther steps forward and sings the song. Everyone is enchanted by the Mastersong and listens in quiet amazement. As Walther finishes the people are jubilant, and unanimous proclaim Walther as winner. Relieved about the course, events have taken, Pogner thanks Hans Sachs.

Walther kneels before Eva, who puts a crown of laurels on his head. Walther and Eva kneel before Pogner, who blesses them. Pogner wants to welcome him as Mastersinger by adorning him with the golden collar, bearing the picture of King David, but Walther refuses with the words that he wants be happy without the Mastersingers. Sachs reprimands him, thanks to the price (Eva) of the Mastersingers, Walther finds his happiness. Sachs reminds the people to always honour the German masters, they are the tenders of the German heritage.
Eva takes the laurel crown from Walther's head and places it on the head of Sachs. Sachs takes the golden collar from Pogner's hands and hangs it around Walther's neck. After Sachs embraces the couple, both remain leaning against Sachs' shoulder. The people exuberantly cheer the Holy German art, its masters and above all Hans Sachs.  
Ehrt Eure deutschen Meister!
Home :: Characters :: Music Meistersinger