“Rienzi” must become a special event in Latvia’s culture

“Rienzi” must become a special event in Latvia’s culture
Kaspars Garda, Rīga 2014 . Director Kirsten Delholm and LNO Chair Zigmars Liepiņš talk about the upcoming production of “Reinzi”.
We have reported previously that one of the most important “Rīga 2014” programme opening events will be the new production of Richard Wagner’s opus in images “Rienzi. Triumph and Defeat” at the Latvian National Opera (LNO). The creative team behind the opus told journalists about the making of the production, expressing hope that it will become a major event not only in Latvia’s, but also Europe’s culture.

Zigmars Liepiņš, the Chairman of the Board of LNO, stresses that it is a great honour for the opera to be part of the “Rīga 2014” program opening, especially with a piece that has been composed in Riga: “It is no secret that Wagner started composing “Rienzi” in Riga – the piece that later brought him global acclaim. Literally, he begun composing it three streets away from where we are sitting right now. We are also honored that the opus will be produced by Kirsten Delholm – the director has worked in Riga previously and her work has received global acclaim.” Liepiņš also hopes that “Rienzi” will become popular outside Latvia, gaining a vast audience.


The Head of Foundation “Rīga 2014” Diāna Čivle says that the creative team behind Riga as the European Capital of Culture chose this piece of Wagner as a special activity that announces the beginning of the extensive program. “The connection between Wagner and Riga is public knowledge and does not require further explanation, as well as the fact that Wagner lived, worked here and was inspired by Riga, and composed a part of the piece in this city. Also, in our opinion, the production of “Rienzi” allows to view culture from a different stand point and, most definitely, to view this opus by Wagner differently.” Čivle also thanked the opera and the creative team of the production, adding that currently the creative process is in high swing and everyone is anxious to witness the premiere of “Rienzi”.


“The central visual character of the opus is a white horse – it refers to freedom, flying, nature; a horse is a live being, an animal that is considered to be an integral part of the human history with many symbolic meanings and interpretations,” says Director Kirsten Delholm (who also produced the 2011 multimedia opera “War Sum Up” at LNO – ed.), also adding that the production of Richard Wagner’s “Rienzi” has been created as an opus in images, using musical numbers from Wagner’s historic grand opera “Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes”. “We have selected only specific musical parts and sceneries from the initial five act score, meaning that the stories are not told in detail, but they focus on the meaning of one word: power. The triumph and defeat of a political leader.” Delholm also says that

“this specific production of “Rienzi” is not a psychological thriller about a specific person -  it is a musical and symbolic legend about people and games for power. The dream about love that turns into a nightmare of political conspiracy.”

Delholm also stresses that the production is created to be a collaboration of music, stage, lighting and choreography, therefore attempting to tell Rienzi’s story and in hopes to surprise the audience. “The creative team is honored to open the year of Riga as the European Capital for Culture with this production,” says the director.

The head role in this new production has been assigned to the German tenor Torsten Kerl, whose portrayal of Rienzi justifiably is considered to be the best in the world.


The singer says that like any other character he has portrayed, he sees a lot of himself in Rienzi and adds that considering the history of Germany, he, as German himself, considers the story of his character’s triumph and defeat to be especially significant. “I have sung this role in over 40 productions, as well as I have recorded two DVDs, yet I consider this production to be challenging, because the opera has been shortened, as well as because it seems that Wagner did not know anything about the possibilities offered by a tenor’s voice, therefore I have to sing very loudly for most of the production, as well as I have to sing the higher notes.

But I am happy that I can be part of this production, as well as Riga, in my opinion, is a very beautiful city and deserves the title of the European Capital for Culture.”

The premiere of Wagner’s opus in images “Rienzi. Triumph and Defeat” will be held on 19 January at the Latvian National Opera; other performances of the opus will be held on 21 January, as well as part of the Riga Opera Festival between 3 and 15 June.

The creative team behind the production: director - Kirsten Delholm; conductor - Modestas Pitrenas; dramaturge - Mikus Čeže; costume design - MAREUNROL’S; electronic music - Voldemārs Johansons. Cast: Rienzi, Torsten Kerl or Andreas Schager; Adriano, Ursula Hesse von den Steinen; Irene, Elisabet Strid; Baroncelli, Raimonds Bramanis; Cecco, Rihards Mačanovskis; Colonna, Krišjānis Norvelis; Orsini, Armands Siliņš.



20.01.2014 22:34

I am sorry, that this is - if I am not wrong - the first comment on Wagners Rienzi in Riga. This performance in concerto form is not a good performance. Even it is only 2 hours - very good decision - it is quite boring to look at, sometimes redicules. It is very difficult to find the links between the different more or less static pictures on stage. And what about history and relevance? Where is the message of the performance? In the booklet director Kirsten Dehlholm is claiming: "The rise and fall of a political leader." Could anyone of the audience after the performance tell why and under which circumstances Rienci failed? Mrs. Dehlholm is only dreaming Rienci although she is aiming to renew the opera world (see her statement in the booklet). Only with special lighting and real horses on stage this will take a very long time.