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Jerold A. Diamond
Wagneropera.net, August 2011

Wagner’s Rienzi, his first successful stage work, was inspired by the legendary fourteenth-century Roman Tribune Cola di Rienzo, who gained power through a revolt against the entrenched nobility. The action of opera traces the protagonist’s predictable journey from liberator to absolutism to despotism and downfall.

Although audio recordings of the opera have previously been released, this live-performance DVD is a first for Rienzi. Unitel Classica/Arthaus-Musik’s Blu-ray release of the opera’s 2010 Deutsche Oper production preserves the work’s dramatic intent, along with its distracting subplots…the glorious vocal scoring for the role of Rienzi recalls the considerable vocal and musical talents of the first Rienzi, Bohemian tenor Josef Tichatschek, who sight-read it all the way through at the first rehearsal. In his mid-thirties and at the height of his vocal prowess at the time of Rienzi’s premiere, Tichatschek’s vocal staying power as well as his previous experience singing Gluck, Mozart and Spohr made him an ideal choice for the sustained lyricism of this hochdramatischen role.

Torsten Kerl, who sings Rienzi on the Deutsche Oper DVD, evokes these same qualities with his gracefully proportioned, polished singing…Wagner considered Schröder-Devrient to be among the greatest singers with whom he ever worked.



Chris Mullins
Opera Today, June 2011

WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (NTSC) 101521
WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101522

The Voltaire maxim usually given in English as “The perfect is the enemy of the good” illuminates the artistic conflicts surrounding many a Wagner production.

With such large operas—in duration, cast, theme, and more—the viewer is best prepared to enjoy any production by foregoing Apollonian expectations. Wagner held himself to very high standards, of course, and one early victim of his search for perfect artistic self-expression was his opera Rienzi - Last of the Tribunes. Created around the same time as The Flying Dutchman, Wagner decided later that Rienzi fell into his early growth period, while Dutchman marked the beginnings of his artistic maturity. So Rienzi was banned from the Bayreuth canon, and indeed the opera has seldom been staged elsewhere, although there are some historic recordings available. What has kept the opera’s title alive is the popularity of its overture in performance and on classical music radio stations. The stirring nobility of the main theme and then the energetic propulsion of the middle section must have led many a listener to be curious about what the opera would be like, seen staged.

An answer—if partial—can be found in the ArtHaus DVD of a 2010 Deutsche Oper Berlin performance, directed by Philip Stötzl. Wagnerian perfectionists face two daunting challenges in enjoying the best of this staging: first, the radically edited version of the score created as the basis of this performance, and second, Stötzl’s decision to forego the setting and even tone of Wagner’s libretto for the sort of modern theatrical interpretation often described, not to say derided, as “regie.”

Set in 14th century Rome, Wagner’s original libretto had a sprawling cast of characters engaging in multiple subplots, but Stötzl cut away everything except the central story of the Roman tribune Rienzi, who becomes a hero to the people when, with the backing of the Church, he faces down a civil revolt. Somewhat reluctantly, he agrees to take leadership and find a final resolution to the conflict. A key member of one of the opposing factions, Adriano, falls in love with Rienzi’s devoted sister, Irene. Adriano pledges support to Rienzi, but other members of the rebelling factions attempt an assassination. Rienzi survives, but then he becomes as autocratic and oppressive as those he sought to subdue. Ultimately, civil war breaks out again, and Rienzi is killed, along with his sister Irene, who chooses her brother over Adriano, leaving the young man bereft.

That much of the story Stötzl communicates very clearly, but he does it through the iconic images of the Third Reich (although there is no specific Hitler parallel in Rienzi’s appearance). Under the overture, a gymnast in a fat military suit cavorts around a huge desk, a homage to Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator playing with a globe-shaped balloon. In his white suit and pulled back hair, Torsten Kerl as Rienzi has a quasi-Mussolini affect, but even from the beginning he seems unstable and unreliable as a force for bringing others together. His dissolution carries no tragic force, therefore, but tragedy is not Stötzl’s aim. The best of the score is known through that famous overture; otherwise, this is indeed early Wagner, the anarchic master locked into the rigid forms of a Meyerbeerian grand spectacle. Stötzl’s menacing yet comical tone turns out to be an effective gambit. And Kerl deserves a lot of credit, singing out with sustained power and thrust, but also fully invested in the production’s atmosphere. Kerl rivets the attention, even if the character often repels it.

In appearance Camilla Nylund is almost too spot-on as Irene—tall, attractive and blonde, Nylund embodies what might have once been called a vision of feminine Aryan beauty. She also physically overwhelms Kate Aldrich in the pants-role of Adriano, but Nylund doesn’t supplant Aldrich as a vocalist. Aldrich sings with great precision and passion, in a type of role that Wagner would never attempt again. While effective, Nylund lacks any special character to her soprano.

Conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing doesn’t allow any of the score’s many edits to disrupt a potent, melodic flow. And for once a disc’s “special feature” is truly special—a 20-minute “making of” documentary that actually has interesting interviews and rehearsal glimpses that give a good sense of how a complex staging such as this comes together. Look for the moment when Nylund asks Stötzl why Irene doesn’t approach Rienzi when her libretto line states she is coming to his side, and a momentarily exasperated Stötzl points out that the production is far from literal. Whether one sympathizes with the singer’s inquiry or the director’s response, the exchange shows the kind of involvement of all parties that resulted in this unusual and frequently exciting production. Recommended.



Charles H Parsons
American Record Guide, May 2011

The musical performance is spectacular. …it is Aldrich who is the vocal star of the show in the pants-role of Adriano. The rest of the cast is quite strong as singers and actors. Much praise to the chorus for their powerful singing. Lang-Lessing has his forces well under control and leads the show for all the dramatic power he can pull out of the music.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.



Mike Ashman
Gramophone, March 2011

WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (NTSC) 101521
WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101522

this new release…provides a committed and well-sung preview of Rienzi’s attractions in a lively production.



Anne Ozorio
Opera Today, January 2011

WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (NTSC) 101521
WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101522

Wagner and Verdi were born within 6 months of each other. Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen comes from 1840, and could in some ways be Wagner’s Simon Boccanegra.

In this new DVD of Wagner’s Rienzi—the first ever full filming—from Deutsche Oper Berlin with Torsten Kerl as Rienzi, the overture is outstandingly well staged. Rienzi is alone looking out at a giant panorama of the Alps. The majesty of the mountains overwhelms: this is real power. In comparison, Rienzi’s nobody despite his status. At first he looks out imperiously, then does a dramatic acrobatic backflip. He starts to “conduct” the music he—and we—hear. Eventually the mountains transform into a vision of the world seen from space. The imagery is at once valid in itself, yet it also seemingly mimics the globe scene in Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Indeed, throughout this production references to early film abound.

Don’t assume, though, this is “only” Berchtesgaden. The Alps can be seen just as clearly from Northern Italy. Strictly speaking, Rienzi isn’t really Italian, since the text is based on an English novel by eminent Victorian Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The subject’s universal—a “man of the people” versus established order who himself gets corrupted by power. Throughout this production, directed by Philip Stölzl, there are references to the early 1920’s, to early film and design. Futurism started in Italy long before the First World War. It’s preoccupation with technology and mass movements found fruit in Russia after 1917, and in German Expressionism. Since the United States was not at war with Germany when The Great Dictator was made, he had to widen his references to include other forms of fascism. Mussolini, for example, wore the white uniform Rienzi wears in this production, and which Chaplin used in his film. Rienzi is about power and the abuse thereof. It could happen anywhere. Indeed the idea of art and designer style as a tool of politics is even more relevant now, in an age of mass media manipulation.

Hence the references to film and propaganda. As Rienzi becomes more caught up with power, his hold on reality loosens. Image-building takes over. The man of the people becomes a huge face projected above the regimented, conforming masses. Theatre becomes a substitute for real life. See how the stage becomes divided. “Public” on top, “private” bunker below, where Rienzi and his intimates function pretty much alone. On the DVD, this split screen effect is particularly good as the lower part resembles film cells rolling on loop. Personality-cult dictatorships have always known the power of image creation, from Napoleon to Mao Zedong. What is the role of the artist in society? This production raises questions, from Sergei Eisenstein for Lenin and Leni Reifenstahl for Hitler.

Torsten Kerl is an excellent, charismatic Rienzi: plenty of forceful volume, yet able to convey the character’s inner virtues. He’s no simplistic stage villain. Wagner builds humanity into the part so Rienzi’s sympathetic. If he were truly ruthless, he’d have wiped out the Colonnas. Kerl’s “Allmächt’ger Vater” is particularly delicate,but throughout the opera, the non-vocal parts are surprisingly contemplative, almost dreamy, as though Wagner understands the value of being visionary. The long non-vocal passages are by no means background, but part of story. This production illustrates them without being intrusive, respecting their oblique nature. Kerl plays with “toy” houses (like empire builders and town planners do). He doesn’t have to sing but his boyish innocence suddenly breaks through the iron man exterior. At the end, Rienzi’s faith seems to rest in the ultimate good of mankind, even though he’s destroyed.

Sebastien Lang-Lessing conducts knowing how important these almost symphonic interludes are in shaping meaning—deft, understated but not overshadowed by the big vocal numbers. Kate Aldrich is an outstanding Adriano Colonna, agile, vibrant, passionate. What a part this is, wavering from one loyalty to another, always on the brink of extreme sacrifice! Aldrich’s voice expresses intensity, her acting the mercurial frisson in the part. This opera is Adriano’s tragedy almost as much as it’s Rienzi’s. Camilla Nylund does well as Irene, though the role is less demanding, and Ante Jerkunica’s a solid Colonna. But it’s the crowd scenes that impress. They’re wonderfully costumed and choreographed. Sometimes the singers march like automatons, the “ideal machine” of Futurist iconology. Sometimes they’re grotesques with masks straight out of caricature. Or Carnival, gone wrong. The singing is equally good. Mechanical precision, even in the mad scenes, showing the crowd as mindless monster.

Although Rienzi is relatively neglected, despite receiving more frequent productions in Europe, this superb new DVD could change that. At 156 minutes, it’s obviously cut from the four hour original, but that may not be a bad thing. The Sawallisch recording with René Kollo is the benchmark, but this performance is edgier and tenser—much closer to the horrible truths in the drama. Kerl’s excellent, making the purchase worthwhile for his sake alone. This performance (filmed live) is also so vivid, it’s a brilliant introduction to an aspect of Wagner that might have been had the composer chosen another direction.



Richard Traubner
Opera News, December 2010

WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (NTSC) 101521
WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101522

Wagner’s early opera Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes is famous for being one of the few unfamiliar works in the composer’s oeuvre, but it also has the distinction of being the longest, longer even than Götterdämmerung. The opera was based on a British novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton about an uprising in Rome in the mid-fourteenth century, and it ascribes to certain then-contemporary trends, like the grand Parisian operas of Meyerbeer and Rossini, not to mention Auber. Yet it was apparently Hitler’s favorite Wagner opera, and the autograph score was burned in the bunker along with the dictator, who thought he was a sort of twentieth-century Rienzi, unifying his people to their utter glory.

Taking this as his cue, director Philipp Stölzl (with Christian Baier) has taken the libretto and score and reconceived them for this exciting production, which had its premiere at Deutsche Oper Berlin last winter, and which this writer saw in performance there. Now in two parts, instead of the original five acts, the score has been more or less halved, so Wagner purists may object, harshly.

But the rest of us can only admire this brilliantly conceived portrait of a dictator, not unlike Hitler or Mussolini, goading his citizens to a frenzy of nationalistic fervor, followed by wartime misery.

Using the clever device of fake newsreels and riffs of patriotic cinematic paeans such as Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, not to mention Stalinist film propaganda, the backdrop is a continuously moving portrait of the dictator—often filmed on the spot on the stage, but projected with the grainy images familiar from 1930s newsreels. Tenor Torsten Kerl, as Rienzi, looks like Mussolini, and his gestures often recall the exaggerations of Jack Oakie in the Chaplin parody of Mussolini in The Great Dictator. These are especially potent when shown silently, played against a Wagner march.

During the overture, however, this Mussolini creature is planted firmly in Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest over Berchtesgaden, dreaming of world conquest and even managing several somersaults, timed meticulously to the stirring music.

Stölzl’s direction offers other memorable images. The transformation of the chorus from grotesque Weimar-era decadence (achieved by constructivist scenery and distorted costumes and masks) to uniform SS troops and Bund Deutscher Mädel nurses is hauntingly done. Irene, Rienzi’s sister, parades around lovingly (and not entirely chastely) as a sort of Eva Braun, complete with braided hair and padded shoulders, dressed in white 1930s fashions. The makeup of most of the characters is chalk-white, to more effectively show up in the newsreel footage, adding a ghostly look to the proceedings.

In the second part (a condensation of the original Acts III to V), the action is played on a split-level stage, with a bunker beneath Rome on the bottom level. As the war on the upper level gets increasingly grim, and his subjects increasingly hostile, Rienzi, mimicking the enfeebled Hitler at the end of the war, continues to spout patriotic exhortations while playing like a child with Albert Speer-like models of a fascistically redesigned “New Rome.”

Kerl, as Rienzi, sings heroically, and Camilla Nylund is a fetching, super-fascist Irene. The most applauded vocal performance was turned in by American mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich, in the breeches role of Adriano, lover of Irene and son of one of the plotters against Rienzi. In the original version, these subversives are pardoned after Adriano and Irene intercede—only to return to destroy Rienzi. In this version, you see film footage that shows them immediately shot, individually, after Rienzi has magnanimously pardoned them in public.

Other roles are very capably taken, but the real star of the production is the supersized chorus, which is kept very, very busy, and which sings with overwhelming power when required. The conducting by Sebastian Lang-Lessing is consistently tense and exciting, loosening up beautifully for such moments as the prayer by Rienzi (“Allmächt’ger Vater”) in the final scene.

There is a fascinating documentary about the making of this production at the end of the second disc, which explains the director’s vision, and the English titles for the opera are very well done. Special credit is also due to those who produced the film footage used during the performance.



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, December 2010

WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (NTSC) 101521
WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101522

Wagner’s early opera Rienzi has several important recordings featuring leading Wagnerians of the past, but this is the only DVD—and this is really not Rienzi. Philipp Stölzi is responsible for this staging that eliminates much of the opera (it is now 2 acts instead of 5) and updates the story to the era of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini, using newsreels and projections. During playing of the overture, we see Rienzi seated in front of a screen. He soon begins to “conduct” and rather resembles a lumpy version of Charlie Chaplin in that famous scene from The Great Dictator. Singers are excellent throughout, with particularly fine work from the chorus. Video and audio are up to today’s highest standards, but Wagner deserves better than this. A questionable “bonus” is a 26-minute justifying this production.



Stephen Habington
La Scena Musicale, November 2010

WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (NTSC) 101521
WAGNER, R.: Rienzi (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101522

Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen was a hit at its 1842 premiere in Dresden. It is Wagner’s longest opera, running at close to five hours and it became the orphan of his mature output. Philipp Stölzl and Christian Baier conflated the five-act tragedy into two parts encompassing the rise of Rienzi and his fatal eclipse. The action is visually transposed from 14th century Rome to the chaos of Berlin after 1919. This is an example of time shifting that really does generate relevance as well as opening the work up to a torrent of meaningful symbolism. In the ruins of empire, a strong man takes power only to be destroyed by it. Instead of Wagner’s multiple scene changes, Stölzl operates with two sets. The first part takes place in a large assembly hall. For the second, the stage is horizontally split with the dictator raving in a subterranean bunker while the population congregates on a war-damaged streetscape above. In both cases, the stage action is brilliantly supplemented by rear projection of grainy black and white newsreel-style videos created by Johannes Grebert, who was inspired by the evil example of the Nazi propaganda machine. Totalitarian nastiness is also made palpable by the costume designs of Kathi Maurer and Ursula Kudrna. Up to 120 members of the chorus appear on stage at once and every one of them is as motivated and emotive as the superb soloists. Torsten Kerl is stupendous in the title role and Camilla Nylund excels in depicting his devoted sister, Irene. Special mention should also be made of the dazzling performance of Kate Aldrich as the catalytic traversi character, Adriano. Sebastian Lang-Lessing’s conducting is exemplary.

This could quite easily be the best new opera production of the year on video. Accompanied by a worthwhile documentary, the performance is also available on conventional DVD.



Kevin Filipski
Times Square, October 2010

Wagner’s early opera Rienzi (Arthaus Musik Blu-ray) is resurrected in this passionate Berlin production from earlier this year, captured in hi-def (lone extra: making-of featurette)



Jeffrey Kauffman
Blu-ray.com, October 2010

When Hitler and Eva Braun perished in their fetid Berlin bunker at the end of the European campaign, they took with them a rather odd curio. Assumed burned to ashes in the firestorm which accompanied the final assault on the Third Reich was the original autograph score to Wagner’s Rienzi. Though some dispute the legend, Hitler evidently maintained he had seen the little known opera, only Wagner’s third essay in the idiom, as a young man and that it had changed his life forever. It’s both fascinating and ironic, when one looks at Rienzi objectively, that this Wagnerian opus above all others would capture the twentieth century’s most despicable dictator’s fancy so completely. First of all, it’s really not very good, at least comparatively speaking when stacked up against Wagner’s more mature oeuvre. It’s a lumbering, more than five hour piece (at least in its original version) which is clearly more influenced by the Grand Operatic tradition of Meyerbeer than any innovations Wagner brought to the compositional table. (Hans von Bülow famously quipped that Rienzi was Meyerbeer’s best opera). While that Grand Opera format clearly reveals the nascent underpinnings of Wagner’s more ambitious Music Theater proclivities which would soon take the world by storm, in Rienzi he’s working squarely in a largely antiquated format which prized spectacle over character, and size over nuance. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly in terms of how surprising Hitler’s obsession with this piece was, is the fact that Rienzi deals with its eponymous power mad dictator whose megalomania leads to his own destruction. While obviously frighteningly prophetic, Hitler was either in denial or too enamored of Rienzi’s quasi-hypnotic powers over his mid-14th century Roman masses to care about the ultimate fate of the leader.

Though Rienzi officially bears the subtitle The Last of the Tribunes, this striking Berlin Opera production really could have utilized The Last Dictator as it soubriquet, as at the very least the weird and wonderful prologue director Philipp Stölzl has staged to Wagner’s Overture (which Hitler used for several Nuremberg rallies) is clearly redolent of the classic Chaplin film. Rienzi (here played by a stunt double) sits as a gigantic desk in front of intentionally scratched and debris filled projections of gigantic mountain peaks which of course recall Hitler’s Bechtesgaden. Rienzi begins to conduct, then dance, as the orchestra swells, ultimately cascading into a series of acrobatic moves like cartwheels. He then motions toward the projections, and they magically rise from the mountains to an outer space view of the entire planet, which Rienzi figuratively holds in his pudgy hands, much like Chaplin played with the globe balloon in The Great Dictator.

While Rienzi (Torsten Kerl) by objective standards has perhaps decent enough motives in Wagner’s original libretto, Stölzl and Artistic Production Manager Christian Baier, who basically halved the original down to around a two and a half hour playing time (Rienzi in its full form is actually Wagner’s longest opera, as incredible as that may seem), here layer on a very subtle, but completely a propos irony, obviously calling into question the entire history of 20th century despots who believed the ends justified the means. This post-modern take on Rienzi works absolutely perfectly, especially when married to the arresting use of projections which often ape such iconic pieces as Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will.

There are parallels to be drawn between Rienzi and some of Wagner’s better known later pieces, especially in terms of the incestuous love affair between brother Rienzi and sister Irene (Camilla Nylund). In their original fourteenth century settings, there are also some perhaps unexpected relationships between Rienzi and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (Rienzi actually is mentioned in Boccanegra’s libretto), but those comparisons fade somewhat in this striking reimagining which doesn’t shirk, and in fact celebrates in its own subversive way, the epochal history that has occurred since Wagner first wrote this piece in the mid-19th century.

One interesting sidebar to consider in this very early effort by Wagner is his somewhat odd choice of voicing the male love interest for Irene, Adriano, as a soprano (here played by Kate Aldrich). Is this a not so subtle commentary on Irene’s rather commanding presence, one which at least partially negates Adriano’s incipient masculinity? I’m not sure I have any answers, and there certainly wasn’t the Handelian emphasis on castrati this comparatively late in the operatic game (Wagner premiered the piece in 1842), but it at least gives one pause when one considers Wagner’s obsessive compulsive attention to detail.

This is a brilliantly well sung and played, albeit drastically truncated (not that that’s a bad thing), production. Kerl is a very appealing Wagnerian tenor with a clear high timbre and absolutely formidable control. Both Nylund and Aldrich do extremely well with Wagner’s often very florid writing, and Aldrich’s sung “scream” at the opera’s denouement needs to be heard to be believed. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin perform extremely capably under the direction of Sebastian Lang-Lessing, and actually help to circumvent some of Wagner’s comparatively pedestrian writing (and especially orchestration) in Rienzi. For anyone coming to this piece after having experienced Wagner’s later, more innovative, triumphs, be forewarned this is a resolutely diatonic outing which owes more to Italian and French traditions than to the nascent German national school which Wagner himself would help to elevate, pushing music into the chromatic hyperbole from which it has yet to fully emerge.

Video Quality

Rienzi is presented on Blu-ray by ArtHausMusik with an AVC encode in 1080i and 1.78:1. This is one of the most striking looking physical productions in recent memory, and aside from one or two artifacting issues, this Blu-ray supports the presentation very well indeed. The projections look fantastic (deliberately scratched and debris filled though they are), and the extremely varied palette presents a wealth of gorgeously saturated blues and reds, as well as some ghastly but very effective yellows, in the stage lighting. The Nazi-like black and white costumes sport brilliant contrast and really good detail. Most of the artifacting, as strange as it is, comes from Rienzi’s starkly gelled and combed hair, which due to Kerl’s dye job produces a fair amount of shimmer throughout the piece. Otherwise this is a fantastic looking production presented in a very clear and well detailed Blu-ray.

Audio Quality

This may be far from Wagner’s most challenging music, but the Blu-ray’s lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is marvelously clear and more immersive than a lot of these opera recordings tend to be. The best part of this sonic offering are the gorgeous voices of Kerl and Nylund, both of which are clear as a bell here, with absolutely top notch fidelity across their vocal ranges. The orchestra is well balanced and plays very well, though the music itself is so strangely “normal” sounding for Wagner, some listeners may actually be nonplussed. The brass and wind sections here are especially well represented on the DTS mix, with full, burnished tones and excellent balance. In fact, balance between the soloists, ensemble and orchestra is very good, perhaps heightened by the hall acoustics at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Special Features and Extras

An above average Making of featurette (HD; 27:00) gives some background on the piece, including copious rehearsal footage. It’s kind of funny to see Kerl “marking” his parts by singing in falsetto, and equally funny to hear Stölzl refer to the unruly ensemble as “nursery school children.” Pay attention to the banter between the director and his stars, as well; there’s obviously some tension there. The insert booklet is also filled with good background on Rienzi, as well as a plot synopsis.

Overall Score and Recommendation

Purists may decry the substantial pruning this version of Rienzi underwent, but frankly I think it may have improved the piece. The physical staging here is smart and ironic without winking too deliberately at the audience, and the singing is spectacular. Rienzi doesn’t get performed very much for a variety of reasons, but if you’ve ever been curious to see it, this is an impressively compelling production. Highly recommended.



Nicholas Sheffo
Fulvue Drive-in, September 2010

All in all, the Naxos-distributed Classical/Opera Blu-rays remain some of the most consistently interesting and diverse titles in the market






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