The Quiet Wagner Masterpiece: Loud And Live
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This live recording of Wagner's early opera Rienzi is the epitome of what early grand Wagner opera should sound like. The superb heldentenor Rene Kollo heads up the cast in a stunning performance. Critics were never too fond of his voice, since he was a lesser star next to the big Wagnerian tenors like James King, Jon Vickers and Wolfgang Windgassen, but Kollo had a very flexible voice, one with brilliant lyricism and terrific lung power. His role in Rienzi must be by far his best work, and certainly one that was ver demanding vocally. It's a long opera with a convulated plot, and is an example of Wagner's first maturity as a composer of Romantic opera. This represents a style of opera that is neither Flying Dutchman nor Der Freischutz. It is a Germanic form of Meyerbeer, a composer whom Wagner was openly critical of but who had to secretly admit was a great influence. Soprano Cheryl Studer sings with passion, lyrical strength and virtuosic musicality. Her golden voice was capable of singing Wagner (she sang Elisabeth in Tannhauser) and bel canto (she has sung Lucia and Verdi's Traviata). So in Kollo and Studer you get great versatile voices singing in a thrilling manner. All fans of these artists and of Wagner will want to buy this recording. There is another Rienzi with Kollo on a studio recording but this one is by far the better set. The live experience makes it more powerful."