[Met Performance] CID:5730
Rienzi {16} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/31/1887.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 31, 1887


RIENZI {16}
Wagner-Wagner

Cola Rienzi.............Anton Schott
Irene...................Lilli Lehmann
Paolo Orsini............Adolf Robinson
Adriano.................Marianne Brandt
Stefano Colonna.........Emil Fischer
Raimondo................Rudolph Von Milde
Baroncelli..............Otto Kemlitz
Cecco del Vecchio.......Emil Sänger
Messenger...............Georgine von Januschowsky

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

Director................Mr. Van Hell

Rienzi received five performances this season.

Review in The New York Times:

METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE

The revival of "Rienzi," which was brought out at the Metropolitan last season, was successfully accomplished at the same establishment yesterday evening. Its reproduction coincided with the reappearance, after two years' absence, of Herr Anton Schott, and it also summoned before the public, in the garb of the personages first made known through Bulwer's celebrated romance, Fräulein Lehmann and Brandt and Herren Robinson and Fischer, who took part in the earliest performances of "Rienzi" at the up-town house. The reader that bears in mind that "Rienzi" was written before the composer's later theories bore fruit need scarcely be told that it has long since been disavowed by the musician and by his partisans and admirers. The score contains few or none of the characteristics of the mature Wagner's themes or treatment, and the ancient forms, afterward so ruthlessly cast aside, are encountered throughout the five acts into which the opera is divided. It has been justly observed, both by the composer's friends and foes that "Rienzi" gives but little promise of what Wagner might have achieved had he continued to labor in the field already tilled by Meyerbeer and the lesser contemporaries of that genius. The music of "Rienzi" does not reveal marked originality; parts of it are trivial, and in handling his material the composer confines himself to the methods of his more renowned collaborers. The result of all this is a composite product that appeals strongly to the lover of Italian melody pure and simple, but that has very slight attractiveness for the worshipper of Wagner. There are, nevertheless, some fine numbers in "Rienzi," and, for a miscellaneous audience, some that are wonderfully effective. The terzetto in the first act, the song of the messengers of peace, and the noble concerted bit preceding the final allegro in the second act; the contralto's air ("in seiner Blüthe") in Act III, and Rienzi's prayer in the fifth act rise to a higher dignity than is attained by mere "taking" measures, and the noisy but spirited finale of the third act is at least appropriate and impressive. The most notable incident in last evening's representation of "Rienzi" was the reappearance, already referred to, of Herr Schott, whose commanding presence, magnetic personality, and powerful voice are remembered by most frequenters of the Metropolitan. Herr Schott has lost none of the attributes that won for their possessor regard and applause two years ago. Nor has he lost a tendency to deviate at times from accurate intonation, especially when yielding to an inclination to increase the volume of his tones. It is, all the same, a delight to listen to a voice that has still both timbre and range, and Herr Schott in Rienzi diffused much of that pleasure on the occasion under notice. Comparing his portrayal of the tribune with that of M. Sylva - and comparison was well-nigh unavoidable - it was noted that while the Belgian artist's cantabile was more expressive and sustained than that of the German performer, Herr Schott's recitative was vastly superior in expressive force to that of his predecessor, and it must further be recorded that histrionically his delineation was infinitely more picturesque, varied, and striking. The favor with which Herr Schott was received culminated at the close of the third act, when his entry on horseback - his charger coming on the stage at a gallop and retiring therefrom in the same novel and dramatic fashion - created considerable excitement, the curtain being subsequently raised amid loud and long continued applause. The prayer in the last act was splendidly sung, but it was reached at so late an hour that its repetition could not be insisted upon. Of the other artists concerned in "Rienzi" last night, it is only necessary to say that they were quite as efficient as of old. In the concerted number just preceding the end of the second act Fräulein Lehmann's tones rang out with a purity and brilliancy that have never been surpassed; emotionally the soprano's performance was not a remarkable one. Fräulein Brandt was heartily applauded for her melodious air in Act III. The "mise en scène" was showy, and, except in the matter of the curiously modern aprons worn by the Roman matrons in Act III, appropriate. The ballet went particularly well. Herr Seidl conducted, but his band was not in quite as good form as usual. The advanced Wagner and Beethoven are the only composers to the interpretation of whose works Herr Seidl brings both skill and earnestness.



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