During the attack on an Italian town by Russian forces, the Marquise of O., the daughter of the colonel in charge of the defence, is attacked by a group of Russian soldiers. A Russian Count comes to her rescue, and falls in love with her. While he is away, she discovers that she is pregnant, though she cannot explain how that happened. Her father repudiates her, and she has to reject the Count while trying to find out who the father of her child is.
This recording of a live performance of MEISTERSINGER from Bayreuth 1957 definitely merits five stars. For those of you who don't already know this, Gustav Neidlinger (PeaceBeUponHim) was the undisputed master of Wagner's "howling-and-spitting" villain roles, Alberich and Klingsor, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s. He sang with unmatched sulfur, cannon-ball density, huge volume, dark tone, and powerful dramatic interpretation. He sang more spontaneously and from-the-gut than most singers. He was the first of his generation to sing these roles with musical line and connected legato, rather than as a series of isolated shouts, grunts, and bellowings. He was typecast for these villainous roles as soon as he set foot on the stage, and almost never performed as a good-guy.