No, Simon O'Neill hasn't had an 'accident' with a Dustbuster. Distracting codpieces are all part of the 16th century styling of Graham Vick's 1993 Royal Opera House production of Die Meistersinger (check out the gents in the lower corners of Pieter Brueghel's The Wedding Dance below).
The production's historical flavour may seem a cop-out in an opera that offers a director so many interpretive possibilities, but Vick hasn't relied on the costumes to tell the story. Detailed characterisations and clear storytelling provide compensation for the unquestioning documentary tendency.
Judging by Friday's dress rehearsal, plenty of time and effort have gone into the latest revival, which opens this evening. The chorus were on their most impressive form all season, and the orchestra lacked only a touch of seasonal sparkle (perhaps hard to muster at 11am) to complement a tight, pacy performance under Pappano's baton.
The cast isn't the starriest, but there was little to fault. Wolfgang Koch, the main unknown quantity, sang Sachs beautifully and tirelessly. His voice isn't huge, but it was enough, and without a hint of strain. John Tomlinson, the production's original Sachs, returns this time as Veit Pogner, with the authoritative and stentorian results you might expect. Peter Coleman-Wright's Beckmesser doesn't always avoid caricature, but he sings well.
Emma Bell's tone is a little darker than ideal for Eva, which would be less of an issue if the ROH hadn't cast a high mezzo (Heather Shipp) as Magdalene. Both are very good in their respective parts, but they do sound too alike for comfort.
There's a similar issue with Simon O'Neill's Walther and Toby Spence's David - both are bright, forward-sounding tenors. Toby Spence seems far more at home here than he did in ENO's Onegin - he risks running away with the whole show.
O'Neill's penetrating tone is less suited to his part. It lies high for him, and while he has no trouble reaching the notes, they fall mostly in a less attractive part of his range. Although still young (in heldentenor terms) he sounds, as he has done for some time, far more like a Siegfried than a Walther.