Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Bailey, Dernesch, Kmentt, Martin, Ridderbusch, Hemsley; Klobucar. Bayreuth, 1969
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No other Wagner opera puts the kind of demands with regards to ensemble singing that Meistersinger does. More than just negotiating the extremely difficult music it requires a connection within the cast. I am sure that fans of this opera, like I have, have suffered through casts that looked great on paper but could not deliver the soul of this opera. Perhaps it is the Bayreuth air that serves as inspiration, as this cast seems determined to deliver that soul. Norman Bailey is Hans Sachs. His voice is gruff but it works well in this role giving him a warm avuncular quality. Helga Dernesch, at the beginning of her career, sings Eva Pogner. Her voice has a beautiful color in the middle and she manages the tessitura of her aria very well. Waldemar Kmentt's Walther is closer to Don Ottavio than Siegfried which is a net gain in my opinion. He delivers a sublime Preislied. The sound is excellent.