Wagner, Rienzi, R. Kollo, S. Wennberg, Staatskapelle Dresden, H. Hollreiser (Warner Classics)
The title character was a Roman politician, risen from humble beginnings to become the city's tribune in the mid-14th century. Rienzi tried unsuccessfully to negotiate the hazardous terrain between the papacy, then removed to Avignon, and the Holy Roman Emperor. Although lifted up for a time by the admiration of everyday Romans, Rienzi runs afoul of the Colonnas and other powerful aristocratic families and ends his days, in the opera, burned alive in a fire set by a mob on the Capitoline Hill. The story of the rise to power of a common man on the shoulders of the populace was a favorite of Adolf Hitler's, for obvious reasons, and the leader of the Nazi party came to own Wagner's manuscript of the opera, still in his possession when he died and so now lost.
Anne Midgette, ‘Rienzi,’ a Wagner work rarely performed, pleases at Strathmore (Washington Post, October 5)
David Rohde, The National Philharmonic’s ‘Rienzi, A Concert Opera’ at Strathmore (D.C. Metro Theater Arts, October 5)
Alex Baker, Rienzi with the National Philharmonic (Wellsung, October 6)