Heinrich Hollreiser
Chor der Staatsoper Dresden
Staatskapelle Dresden
August/September 1974
February/April 1976
Lukaskirche Dresden
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cola RienziRené Kollo
IreneSiv Wennberg
Steffano ColonnaNikolaus Hillebrand
AdrianoJanis Martin
Paolo OrsiniTheo Adam
RaimondoSiegfried Vogel
BaroncelliPeter Schreier
Cecco del VecchioGünther Leib
FriedensboteIngeborg Springer

Rienzi is grand opera with a vengeance. Political imperatives count for more than mere human feelings, and politics means ceremony as well as warfare: marches, ballet music and extended choruses are much in evidence in this work, while even the solo arias often have the rhetorical punch of political harangues. It could all be an enormous bore. Yet the young Wagner, basing his work on Bulwer Lytton’s story of the tragic Roman tribune, did manage to move beyond mere tub-thumping into a degree of intensity that – for those with ears to hear – prefigures the mature genius to come. In the end, Rienzi himself is more than just a political animal, and the existential anguish of Tannhäuser, Tristan and even Amfortas can be found glimmering in the distance. This performance isn’t ideal in every respect, either musically or as a recording. But its virtues outweigh its weaknesses by a considerable margin. Siv Wennberg was not in best voice at the time but the other principals, notably René Kollo and Janis Martin, bring commendable stamina and conviction to their demanding roles. Above all, Heinrich Hollreiser prevents the more routine material from sounding merely mechanical, and ensures that Rienzi has a truly Wagnerian sweep and fervour.

User Rating
Media Type/Label
EMI, Angel, Eterna
EMI, Warner
Technical Specifications
619 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 970 MByte (flac)