Melbourne Opera to present Rienzi

Melbourne Opera - RienziPresented in concert by Melbourne Opera as part of the Melbourne Ring Festival, the Athenaeum Theatre will bear witness to the magnificent music of Richard Wagner’s Rienzi in a special one-off performance.

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.

“It is a very exciting prospect to be presenting the Australian premiere of this early success of Wagner,” says conductor and Melbourne Opera director Greg Hocking.

“We have assembled an outstanding cast led by Jason Wasley, Rosamund Illing and Joanna Cole, with the Melbourne Opera Chorus specially augmented to 70 singers. Our renowned orchestra has also been expanded significantly, particularly in the brass department.”

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 is one of Australia’s leading tenors and appears regularly internationally and with all Australian opera companies. One of Australia’s most 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.

This special performance completes a very successful 10th Anniversary year for Melbourne Opera, including an extended sell-out season of La Traviata and a sold out Gala as part of their Verdi bicentennial Festival. Rienzi also follows the national tour of the hugely popular Cosi Fan Tutte, nominated for a 2012 Green Room Award for Best Direction.

The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne
Performance: Sunday 8 December 2013 – 6:30pm
Bookings: 13 28 49 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of Melbourne Opera