30th June 2008
Broadcast by the BBC in 1968 and sung in English by a largely British cast, the controversial conductor’s take on Wagner’s only comedy impresses with its ‘immense depths of mood and meaning’.
For the first time ever, the legendary centenary production of Wagner's The Mastersingers, conducted by Reginald Goodall, is released as a 4-CD set on Chandos Opera in English.
Broadcast live on the BBC from Sadler's Wells Theatre on 10 February 1968, Goodall conducted a cast of such luminaries as Alberto Remedios, Norman Bailey, Derek Hammond-Stroud, Gregory Dempsey, Margaret Curphey and Ann Robson. Following the live broadcast the recording sadly disappeared into the archives and has since become one of the most talked about ‘lost’ performances. Music-lovers have regularly contacted Chandos requesting its release on Opera in English and it is one that Sir Peter Moores was determined to make happen. It even led to an appeal for individuals’ recordings of the broadcast! This 4-CD set has subsequently been re-mastered from a BBC Radio live broadcast and is released at the price of 3 CDs. The sound quality reflects the fact it is a 1968 ‘live’ recording and some deterioration is evident, although this does not detract from the fantastic performance value. ‘A popular comic opera’, The Mastersingers is an ensemble opera in a sense which Wagner’s other operas are not. Yet despite its comic opera standing, it is in fact a deeply spiritual work. Wagner wrote, ‘it is impossible that you should not have sensed, under the opera’s quaint superficies of popular humour, the profound melancholy, the lament, the cry of distress of poetry in chains, and its reincarnation, its new birth, its irresistible magic power achieving mastery over the common and the base.’ Nicholas Payne writes: “the rise and fall of Goodall’s orchestra is drenched in tears which encompass both supreme joy and unrequited sorrow. Goodall sensed that the generosity of spirit which inhabited Sadler’s Wells and its company in the final years at that theatre would never be recaptured.” Sir Peter Moores comments on this release: “The resounding success of Reginald Goodall's Mastersingers led to his conducting an 'English' Ring at the London Coliseum in the 1970s. That Ring started me recording opera in English so I am thrilled that we have been able to add The Mastersingers to our Opera in English catalogue - alongside Goodall's Ring.”