Australian bass-baritone Shane Lowrencev has withdrawn from the role of Hans Sachs in Opera Australia’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which opens next week in Melbourne. An OA stalwart, it was to have been Lowrencev’s first time performing the role in full, having sung the third act of the opera in a semi-staged concert for State Opera of South Australia in August this year.

Lowrencev himself was a replacement for OA’s original Hans Sachs, the American baritone James Johnson, who performed the role of Wotan and Wanderer for the company’s 2016 Ring Cycle. Replacing Lowrencev is German baritone Michael Kupfer-Radecky, who makes his Australian debut in the role.

Michael Kupfer-Radecky. Photo © Simon Pauly

“Shane Lowrencev has decided to withdraw from the incredibly demanding role of Hans Sachs in Opera Australia’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” said a spokesperson for Opera Australia. “Shane feels exhausted and doesn’t want to compromise the production or the performances of his colleagues. Opera Australia accepts Shane’s decision and looks forward to working with him in the future.”

Kupfer-Radecky is an experienced Wagnerian, having performed the role of Wotan in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, as well as Gunther in Götterdämmerung, in various European houses in recent years. He made his debut as Hans Sachs at the Tyrolean Festival Erl in 2015, and performed the role under the esteemed conductor Philippe Jordan at the Opéra Bastille in 2016 as a last-minute replacement for Gerald Finley. Hans Sachs was also the occasion of Kupfer-Radecky’s La Scala debut in April 2017.

Pietari Inkinen returns to OA after his acclaimed Ring Cycles for the company in 2013 and 2016, to conduct this co-production between Opera Australia, the Royal Opera House and The National Centre for Performing Arts, Beijing by Kasper Holten.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is at Arts Centre Melbourne, from November 13 – 22