Ernst Dunshirn
Chor und Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
2 April 1998
Staatsoper Wien
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cola RienziSiegfried Jerusalem
IreneNancy Gustafson
Steffano ColonnaWalter Fink
AdrianoMargareta Hintermeier
Paolo OrsiniPeter Weber
RaimondoRoland Schubert
BaroncelliPeter Jelosits
Cecco del VecchioWolfgang Bankl
FriedensboteAnat Efraty
Opera Canada

ONE OF THE MOST EAGERLY AWAITED NEW productions at the Vienna Staatsoper this season was Richard Wagner’s grand tragic opera Rienzi, der Letze der Tribunen, not seen in Vienna for over 63 years. Unfortunately, much of this Euro-trash production by David Pountney (with sets by Robert Israel and costumes by Marie-Jeanne Lecca) was so painfully embarrassing to watch that issues of interpretation or relevancy seemed hardly to matter. From the opening, the production evolved into a grand celebration of kitsch. At the climax of the celebration, for instance, scores of cherubic little girls, all in matching school uniforms with floral wreaths on their heads, filed onto the stage, each clutching two little flags emblazoned with the letter R and proceeded to “entertain” us with what looked liked a semaphoric exercise. The piece de resistance, however, was the appearance of the German contingent–a group of happy Bavarians–who paid homage to Rienzi with a series of gifts that they placed reverentially on the steps of his throne: including a large beer stein, an enormous golden pretzel and an accordion. Vocally the evening was a modest success. In the performance I attended, Margareta Hintermeier sang the trouser role of Adriano for the first time at the State Opera. She has a large voice and sang full-throttle through much of the evening. Her big solo scene was sung with passion and intensity, if not subtlety. Soprano Nancy Gustafson, in the rather innocuous role of Rienzi’s sister Irene, sang with distinction; Walter Fink was a sinister Steffano Colonna; Peter Weber an adequate Paolo Orsini. Tenor Siegfried Jerusalem (Rienzi) had been plagued with vocal problems throughout this run and seemed to survive the performance I attended on sheer willpower. The role, which is both lengthy and vocally demanding, clearly revealed how much his voice has declined in both beauty of sound and power. While his current vocal condition is the cause for some concern, the savageness of the boos that greeted his solo curtain call cannot be condoned. Conductor Ernst Dunshirn proved to be an insensitive replacement for Zubin Mehta (who conducted the premiere and earlier performances). He started loudly and ended even more so, drowning out most of singers along the way.

User Rating
Media Type/Label
HO 13971
Technical Specifications
224 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 276 MByte (MP3)
Probably an in-house recording.
A production by David Pountney (1997)