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The Sunday Opera: Richard Wagner's "Rienzi"

Richard Wagner is probably best known for his heroic operas based on Germanic legends, but on this week’s Sunday Opera (3/6 3:00 p.m.), we’ll be looking at one of the operas that he disowned, the last of his three Italianate works, “Rienzi” which premiered in Dresden in 1842. “Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen” or “Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes,” centers around Cola di Rienzi (Rene Kollo) in 14th century Rome who single-mindedly attempted to unite Rome and its two main warring families the Orsinis and Colonnas whether Rome and its people want it or not.

The plot is somewhat complicated because Rienzi’s sister Irene (Cheryl Studer) is in love with Adriano (Jan Janssen Paolo) who is the son of Stefano Colonna (Jan-Hendrik Rootering), but their love is doomed as are the hopes of Rienzi to unite Rome. The remainder of the cast includes Bodo Brinkmann, Karl Helm, Norbert Orth, and Friedrich Lenz. Wolfgang Sawallisch leads the Bavarian State Opera Chorus and the Bavarian State Orchestra.

We’ll be featuring more music of Richard Wagner after the opera including his birthday present for his wife, the Sigfried Idyll.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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