Rienzi was Wagner’s first big operatic success: this return performance features leading stars Rosamund Illing, Jason Wasley, Joanna Cole and Roger Howell with the augmented Melbourne Opera Chorus and orchestra conducted by Greg Hocking.
Wagner’s first operatic success, Rienzi was produced by the Dresden State Opera in 1842 and by 1900 had achieved 200 performances. Rienzi is greatly influenced by the French grand opera style of Meyerbeer, and features numerous stirring choruses and marches.
The story revolves around the 14th century historical figure Cola di Rienzi, a great orator who aspired to rebuild the Roman Empire. He sets himself up as the people’s Tribune, takes on the aristocracy and is finally assassinated. Wagner depicts him as a magnanimous Romantic hero, bent on restoring power to the people, overthrown by the intrigues of the powerful.
Playing the star role of Rienzi is widely accomplished tenor Jason Wasley, one of Australia’s leading tenors, who regularly appears internationally and with all Australian opera companies. Distinguished sopranos Rosamund Illing will play the role of Adriano, while Joanna Cole reprises the role of Irene, which she has previously performed to great acclaim in London.
The Overture has remained in the concert repertoire and Rienzi’s Act 5 prayer, with its strong intimations of the Lohengrin to come, is still performed by tenors, notably Jonas Kaufmann on his recent best selling Wagner CD.
The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 5 February 2014 – 7.30pm
Bookings: 13 28 49 or online at: www.ticketek.com.au
For more information, visit: www.melbourneopera.com for details.
Image: courtesy of Melbourne Opera