Rienzi Wagner

Richard Wagner operas
• Die Feen (1833)
• Das Liebesverbot (1836)
Rienzi (1842)
• Der fliegende Holländer (1843)
• Tannhäuser (1845)
• Lohengrin (1847)
• Tristan und Isolde (1859)
• Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1867)
• Das Rheingold (1869)
• Die Walküre (1870)
• Siegfried (1871)
• Götterdämmerung (1874)
• Parsifal (1882)
Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes), Риенци
  • The Orchestra of the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar plays the Ouverture of Richard Wagner's opera 'Rienzi' at the Neue Weimarhalle on May 10th.
  • .Dolby Sounds.-Date:Oct 18 1988-Place:Suntory Hall (Tokyo).
  • Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen by Richard Wagner Grand Tragic Opera in Five Acts after the novel Cola di Rienzi by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Rome in the fourteenth century. Act I Scene 1: A street at night, with the Lateran Church in the background. Paolo Orsini is trying to abduct Irene, Rienzi's sister.

Premiere / date of written: 20 October 1842

This heroic performance of Wagner's most magnificent opera was recorded on June 27th 1976 and broadcast once in the same year. I listened to the 1976 broadcast with astonishment, (fortunatly taping it), and it has remained the performance for me against which all others are measured.

“Rienzi, who I invented and portrayed myself, should be a hero in the true meaning of the word; a passionate dreamer who appears as a flashing ray of light among a fallen, decadent people - believing his true calling is to rise up and shine” Richard Wagner
Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden on October 20, 1842, and was the composer's first success.


1GermanRichard Wagner
2RussianГ. А. Лишин, 1878

original libretto
line-by-line of the original libretto


Notable videos

Richard Wagner - Rienzi Ouverture

The Symphony Orchestra of the LISZT School of Music Weimar plays the Ouverture of Richard Wagner's opera 'Rienzi' at the Neue Weimarhalle on May 10th. Conductor: Professor Nicolás Pasquet.

Richard Wagner - Rienzi Ouverture

Audio recordings

Cola Rienzi, Roman Tribune — Günther Treptow,
Irene, his sister — Trude Eipperle,
Steffano Colonna, a nobleman — Helmut Fehn,
Adriano, his son — Erna Schlüter,
Paolo Orsini, another patrician — Rudolf Gonszar,
Raimondo, Papal Legate — Heinz Prybit,
Baroncelli, Roman citizen — Willy Hoffman,
Cecco del Vecchio, Roman citizen — Josef Lindlar,
The Messenger of Peace — Berta Preisker
Winfried Zillig
Sinfonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks
Zyx music
Running time 169 min.
Cola Rienzi, Roman Tribune — René Kollo,
Irene, his sister — Siv Wennberg,
Steffano Colonna, a nobleman — Nikolaus Hillebrand,
Adriano, his son — Janis Martin,
Paolo Orsini, another patrician — Theo Adam,
Raimondo, Papal Legate — Siegfried Vogel,
Baroncelli, Roman citizen — Peter Schreier,
Cecco del Vecchio, Roman citizen — Günther Leib,
The Messenger of Peace — Ingeborg Springer,
Ambassadors, Nobles, Priests, Monks, Soldiers, Messengers, Populace
Heinrich Hollreiser
Dresden Staatskapelle
EMI Classics
Complete recording of Wagner's shortened 1843 version. CD comes with libretto in German and English.
René Kollo,
Jan-Hendrik Rootering,
Cheryl Studer,
John Janssen,
Bodo Brinkmann,
Karl Helm,
Norbert Orth,
Kieth Engen
Wolfgang Sawallisch
Bavarian State Opera orchestra and chorus
Orfeo d'Oro

External links

  • Sheet Music — www.sheetmusicplus.com
Torsten Kerl (Rienzi)
© Bettina Stöß
Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin © Bettina Stöß'>Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin
© Bettina Stöß
Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin © Bettina Stöß'>Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin
© Bettina Stöß

Rienzi, Richard Wagner's first operatic success, is about a 14th-century Italian populist who rebelled against the nobles. He was killed when he quickly lost the support of the people and the church, despite his initial success. Adolf Hitler was said to have been very impressed with the opera as a young man, and had the original manuscript kept in his Berlin bunker, so it was not so far-fetched for Philipp Stölzl to create his 2010 production with Rienzi depicted as a Hitler-like figure. The setting of the famous overture is a brilliant tour de force. We see a man in military uniform seated at an enormous long table. Outside the large windows are snow-covered mountains. The room could be in Hitler’s eagle’s nest. A man dances around the room, ending with several cartwheels. It is a clever way to establish in no uncertain terms what the director intends to do: portray Rienzi as Hitler.

Torsten Kerl (Rienzi)

To a large extent, Stölzl’s plan succeeds. Rienzi’s loyal sister, Irene, dressed in a Dirndl, could be Eva Braun, with even a hint of their relationship being more than that of siblings. There is an extensive use of film to broadcast Rienzi’s speech, reminiscent of Hitler’s propaganda campaigns. Rienzi and his men salute one another with a clenched fist to their breast (instead of raising an arm). Rather than a swastika, Rienzi’s symbol on his banner is the letter “R,” which could also stand for his name or for Rome, the setting of the opera. The last three acts, after the intermission, sees the stage split into two levels: Rienzi’s (or Hitler’s) bunker and the streets of Rome (Berlin) on top. To the very end Rienzi, like Hitler, seems convinced of the support of his people and persists in sending his broadcasts. He sings his famous prayer “Allmächt’ger Vater” while building his ideal cityscape of model buildings. The final scenes show the brutality of mob mentality and the quick shift in political fortunes, as both Rienzi and Irene are clobbered to death. The city of Rome (Berlin) is left in tattered ruins.

Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin © Bettina Stöß'>
Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin

If one overlooks the incongruity of the repeated references to Rome in the libretto and the different motivations that might have driven Rienzi and Hitler, the parallel of the two historic figures works well, and some mob scenes are harrowing and arresting. Stölzl succeeds in creating an atmosphere of a claustrophobic city by limiting the action to the front of the stage. This performance featured Torsten Kerl as Rienzi, who created the role at the 2010 premiere. His voice is not large but he managed to essay the demanding tessitura of the role with clarity and warmth. His characterization of Rienzi, whose intentions remain genuine to the end, was convincing and touching. Smaller male roles were all well cast, with Derek Welton’s Cardinal Orvieto showing off his deep sonorous bass in his brief appearance. The chorus members impressed vocally and in acting as prominent participants of this work, written in the French grand operatic style.

Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin © Bettina Stöß'>

Wagner Opera Rienzi

Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin

Elisabeth Teige, as Irene, had a bright and penetrating voice that stood out in the ensemble scenes. She had a winning stage presence and acted well the part of a woman torn between her role as a supporting sister and a lover to Adriano, the son of a nobleman. But it was Annika Schlicht as Adriano who was the vocal standout of the evening. Her substantial and warm voice opened up with power and resonance as she played the role of a young man who falls in love with the sister of her father’s enemy. Her duet with Teige was full of passion and trepidation, and she remained the driving force throughout the performance.

While Wagner viewed Rienzi as his French-style grand opera and excluded it from the canon of his operas to be performed in Bayreuth, much of the music in Rienzi foreshadows his subsequent works, especially The Flying Dutchman and Lohengrin. Already, some of the music has the quality of continuous flow, and the orchestra plays a prominent part in describing the action and emotion. Conductor Evan Rogister managed to keep the orchestra, soloists and chorus together throughout the evening, the orchestra responding with indefatigable energy. It was a rare pleasure to experience Wagner’s early opera performed well in such an interesting production.

See full listing
“Stölzl succeeds in creating an atmosphere of a claustrophobic city”
Reviewed at Deutsche Oper, Berlin on 18 April 2019
Evan Rogister, Conductor
Ulrike Siegrist, Set Designer
Annika Schlicht, Adriano
Torsten Kerl, Cola Rienzi
Clemens Bieber, Baroncelli
Dong-Hwan Lee, Paolo Orsini
Ursula Kudrna, Costume Designer
Chorus of Deutsche Oper Berlin
A “poem of blood and lust” reconsidered at Deutsche Oper Berlin
If you have dismissed this opera as overstuffed kitsch in the past, you might want to take a look at this production. It could well change your mind.
A defiant Deutsche Oper's reduced open-air Rheingold
Deutsche Oper Berlin returns in rousing style with a pared-down, open-air Rheingold on its “Parkdeck”.
An immensely dramatic opera: Le Prophète in Berlin

Rienzi Wagner Synopsis

Meyerbeer's tale of the Anabaptist rebellion in the 16th-century religious wars proves to be a powerful thriller, with Clémentine Margaine and Gregory Kunde leading a very strong singing cast.
An enchanting new Midsummer Night’s Dream at Deutsche Oper Berlin
Deutsche Oper Berlin’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a delightful and whimsical homage to Britten’s masterpiece. The orchestra, soloists and children’s chorus performed with energy and charm under the baton of Donald Runnicles.
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Atsuko (Ako) Imamura is a retired investment banker in New York City. Born in Japan, she trained as cultural anthropologist in the US before turning to finance. She now spends her time attending opera and classical music concerts in New York and in Europe. Wagner is her favorite opera composer.
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Irrespective of the quality of the performance, Stolzl's production is a travesty of what this opera is about. A reading of the libretto reveals Rienzi as a man of the people who is betrayed on all sides. The fact that Hitler liked this opera does not mean his opinion is the true one. I have seen powerful productions of this opera - ENO and Leipzig - which are much truer to this undervalued opera's power and ultimate tragedy. The Leipzig production also retained far more of this admittedly very long opera - which can be heard absolutely complete as Wagner himself never heard it in a remarkable BBC broadcast conducted by Edward Downes and originally broadcast in 1976, the Ring centenary year, and can be found on an excellent CD issue by the Oriel Music Trust - all profits going to the Musicians Benevolent Fund.
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