Rienzi

Claus-Peter Flor
Choeur de Radio-France
Orchestre National de France
Date/Location
16 February 2002
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées Paris
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cast
Cola RienziThomas Moser
IreneNancy Gustafson
Steffano ColonnaAlfred Reiter
AdrianoYvonne Naef
Paolo OrsiniPeter Sidhom
RaimondoKenneth Cox
BaroncelliStephan Rügamer
Cecco del VecchioAlexander Vassiliev
FriedensboteHélène Bernady
Gallery
Reviews
forumopera.com

ONF a eu l’excellente idée de proposer au public parisien “Rienzi”, enfant mal aimé d’oncle Richard et des wagnériens de stricte obédience.
Souvent présenté comme “le meilleur opéra de Meyerbeer” (ou le plus mauvais de Wagner, c’est selon), l’oeuvre est composée dans un style imitant le grand opéra à la française (d’ailleurs, à quand de vrais Grands Opéras Français par l’ONF ?). La littérature a souligné les similitudes avec les Huguenots (final du III dans les deux cas), mais aussi avec la Muette de Portici d’Auber (Amour sacré de la Patrie) : il s’agit d’ailleurs plutôt de ressemblances sur la forme.

En revanche, on pourrait presque parler d’emprunts pour certaines scènes directement inspirées du Rossini de Guillaume Tell, voire du Siège de Corinthe. A l’inverse, l’oeuvre annonce le Vaisseau fantôme, notamment dans le traitement des choeurs, Tannhauser et Lohengrin pour celui des voix. L’ensemble constitue une oeuvre très agréable et qui gagnerait à être donnée plus souvent, les coupures opérées (plus d’une demie heure de musique !), ne se justifiant que pour des raisons d’organisation.

Annoncé souffrant (est-ce que ça faisait vraiment une différence à ce stade de sa carrière ?), Thomas Moser est un Rienzi plutôt fatigué. S’il se tire des passages héroïques, la voix mixte lui pose problème (un comble pour un ténor mozartien à l’origine) et bon nombre de passages sont carrément chantés faux. Pire, la couleur, geignarde, est uniforme et finit par causer un certain ennui.

Je n’ai pas entendu une traitre note sortir de la bouche de Nancy Gustavson : je ne peux donc objectivement commenter sa prestation (elle devait confondre avec le rôle titre de la Muette de Portici).

Yvonne Naef campe le rôle (travesti) d’Adriano. Cette excellente chanteuse, très à l’aise dans le contralto de la Marfa de Khovantschina de Zürich il y a quelques semaines, est bien plus exposée dans cette tessiture très tendue. Air et cabalette de l’acte III la trouvent en grandes difficultés dans les aigus (air, cabalette, rôle travesti : on comprend que Wagner ait renié son oeuvre !). Il faut quand même reconnaitre que c’est la seule chanteuse qui se défonce dans la soirée et que son interprétation reste globalement très excitante.

Les autres rôles sont de peu d’importance et très moyennement chantés : je n’insiste pas.

Les choeurs sont nombreux : la comparaison est cruelle avec ceux de l’Opéra de Paris, car le volume est loin d’être au rendez-vous !

Même constatation en ce qui concerne l’orchestre, un peu dépassé.

Remplaçant Jeffrey Tate, Claus-Peter Flor assure une direction professionnelle mais sans génie particulier.

Une soirée “apéritive” qui aiguise notre impatience à entendre le Rienzi promis par Mortier en ouverture de sa première saison parisienne.

Placido Carrerotti

CultureKiosque

A concert performance of Rienzi (16 February) suffered from the unnuanced conducting of Claus Peter Flor, eagerly attempting to underline every link to the later Wagner so that we were constantly hearing pre-echos not only of Tannhaüser but also Tristan. Thomas Moser in the title role was announced as indisposed, but he seemed to be his usual cautious self. Yvonne Naef (Adriano) makes an impressive sound, but it is in the relentless Fiorenza Cossotto mode and has one worrying for her future. Nancy Gustafson’s slender vocal resources are hard put by the thankless role of Irene, who has little to sing except for the occasional yelp. Peter Sidhom’s Orsini stood out among the conspirators, with Alfred Reiter’s Colonna close behind, though the voice loses focus under pressure. Stephan Rügamer’s Baroncelli, Kenneth Cox’s Cardinal and Alexandre Vassiliev’s Cecco made the most of the little Wagner gave them to do, while the brass section of the Orchestre National de France might easily have profited from one or two additional rehearsals to temper their unbridled enthusiasm.

Classics Today

RIENZI’S TENTATIVE TRUMPETS TAKE PARIS

Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (Paris): February 16, 2002

Paris’ elegant Théâtre des Champs-Elysées has been hosting concert readings by the Orchestre National de France of less performed operas, some of which have made it onto CD. Though it was a worthy and serious effort, it is unlikely that the RIENZI simultaneously broadcast on France Musique February 16 will be felt to merit that kind of preservation. (The next in this intriguing series is Bizet’s IVAN IV on March 28 under Michael Schônwandt). Wagner’s Bulwer Lytton-based third opera, first heard in 1842 in Dresden but completed in Paris after the composer had soaked up relevant traits of French grand opera, certainly deserves occasional hearing. It also shows its pedigree; the influence of Spontini’s historical epics, Rossini’s GUILLAUME TELL and Meyerbeer’s HUGUENOTS is easy enough to spot in the “large canvas” use of orchestra and chorus (rather, orchestras and chorus, since like in Spontini’s works there are offstage effects aplenty). RIENZI thus has a kind of interesting fraternal relation to DON CARLOS, LES TROYENS, KHOVANSHCHINA and other “second generation” historical grand operas. In some choral passages and some scoring details (notably an organ) it also gives foreshadowings of DER FLIEGENDE HOLLAENDER and/or LOHENGRIN. Fortunately Norbert Balatsch’s Radio France men’s chorus proved the strongest element in this performance, singing with remarkable power and quality throughout. The chorus women, who had less to do, did it rather less precisely Pride of place should next go to Thomas Moser, who was announced as being ill and occasionally sounded so in some dryer passages in the upper reaches. Still, the American tenor displayed excellent musicianship, a clear understanding of the through-line of Rienzi¹s part musically and dramatically, and the ability, rare among current Wagner tenors, to provide admirable dynamic light and shade in cleanly sculptured phrases. He was especially moving in the score’s most inspired moment, the fifth act Prayer. Yvonne Naef, billed as a contralto for the high mezzo travesti role of Adriano, has been singing Eboli and Venus and on this showing is clearly (like so many mezzos today) pushing her luck in such heavy repertory. What seems a pleasant-timbred large lyric voice suited to Massenet’s Charlotte or Offenbach’s Giulietta (which she has done at La Scala) betrayed an edge, intonation problems and difficulty in sustaining high lines over the large orchestra. She came to grief in the difficult (if melodically not very inspired) scena “Gerechter Gott,” resorting to yelling the topmost notes. It must be said that the confused Adriano is not a particularly admirable “hero”, and Mlle. Naef (dressed in a remarkable orange spangled pantsuit and rock star duster with huge, triangular shoulder pads evoking intergallactic travel) did little to make his motivations more comprehensible. Nancy Gustafson, smiling mightily as Adriano’s love interest (and, what proves more important, Rienzi’s loyal sister) Irene, betrayed for much of the evening the difficulties above the staff that have marked her work in the last decade or so. The middle of the voice retains a pleasant quality; she made her best impression in the two difficult Act Five duets. Hélène Bernardy’s soprano did not show the steadiness or clarity needed for the lovely lyric cameo of the Messenger of Peace. The other male roles are scarcely very gratifying. Of the aristocratic “heavies”, baritone Peter Sidhom made an urgent, strong Orsini. The young bass Alfred Reiter (as Stefano Colonna, Adriano’s murderous father) has a quality instrument but it does not as yet respond well to the kind pressure a Wagnerian orchestra in a good-sized theatre demands of it. Kenneth Cox looks more like George V than ever, but his suitably deep bass wobbled a shade too much as Cardinal Orvieto. Stephan Rügamer displayed an alert lyric tenor and sound musicianship as Baroncelli, the ally who eventually turns the Roman crowd against its tribune Rienzi. Claus-Peter Flor, substituting for the originally announced Jeffrey Tate in the pit, proved highly competent but not especially inspired. He did best in shaping the more contemplative portions of the score. The violins could have used more rehearsal, but the orchestra’s celli, both en masse and in solo passages, did voluptuous-sounding and musical work. Too often the crucial trumpet entries were flatted; though the lower brass (however) held up its end very well. The percussion section (particularly the valiant drummers) deserves commendation for its work throughout the long, uneven, but certainly worthwhile evening.

David Shengold

Rating
(5/10)
User Rating
(3/5)
Media Type/Label
Lyric Distribution, CA, Premiere
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Technical Specifications
192 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 253 MByte (MP3)
Remarks
Broadcast of a concert performance