The Last of the Tribunes
Director: Johannes Grebert
Distributor: C Major Entertainment
Length: 150 min.
16:9 shot in 1080i HD | stereo & 5.1 surround sound
© 2010, a BFMI production for Unitel
Richard Wag­n­er's early op­era "Ri­en­zi" is styl­ist­ic­ally closer to Mey­er­beer and bel canto than to Wag­n­er's later mas­ter­works. Yet even this early work es­pe­cially as presen­ted in this re­cord­ing is "so fant­ast­ic­ally beau­ti­ful that it takes one's breath away" (Ber­liner Zei­tung). And in this sta­ging by Phil­ipp Stölzl (co-dir­ec­ted by Mara Kur­otsch­ka), who con­densed the five-act op­era in­to a little over two hours, "Ri­en­zi" be­comes a start­lingly power­ful and time­less par­able of power and ab­use.

Though the story of the rise and fall of a cha­ris­mat­ic lead­er and his to­tal­it­ari­an re­gime takes place in 14th-cen­tury Rome, Stölzl sets it some­where in the re­cent past. The top­ic "an­ti­cip­ates the his­tory of the 20th cen­tury in a vis­ion­ary way", says Stölzl, adding that "one can make sur­pris­ing ana­lo­gies to many des­pots of this time: Stal­in, Mus­solini, Hitler, Ceau­ses­cu" Since film was a cent­ral propa- ganda tool of 20th-cen­tury to­tal­it­ari­an sys­tems, Stölzl uses film pro­jec­tions to make the "tribune" Ri­en­zi tower above the masses or, in the style of old news­reels, to show a uto­pi­an "New Rome". It is, after all, with films that Stölzl began his ca­reer: dir­ect­ing video clips for Rammstein and Madonna, then dir­ect­ing fea­ture films ("North Face", "Goethe!") His sta­ging of "Benven­uto Cel­lini" at the Salzburg Fest­iv­al in 2007 was hailed as "breath­tak­ing" (Der Stand­ard) and "spec­tac­u­larly suc­cess­ful" (F.A.Z.).
Ten­or Tor­sten Kerl, who has vis­ibly stud­ied the ges­tures of the 20th cen­tury's ma­jor dic­tat­ors, gives a bril­liant and elo­quent Ri­en­zi; his du­ti­ful sis­ter Irene, sung by Ca­m­illa Nylund with great lyr­ic­al in­tens­ity, is paired with a lov­er, Ad­ri­ano, in­ter­preted by the lu­min­ous mezzo Kate Ald­rich, "the dis­cov­ery of the even­ing" (Süddeutsche Zei­tung). Also worthy of lead-role status is the chor­us, which mas­ters its de­mand­ing part with stun­ning pres­ence and ac­cur­acy. The or­ches­tra of the Deutsche Op­er Ber­lin is led with ex­uber­ance and pre­ci­sion by young con­duct­or Se­basti­an Lang.

Tor­sten Kerl, Ri­en­zi
Kate Ald­rich, Ad­ri­ano
Ca­m­illa Nylund, Irene
Ante Jerku­nica, Stef­fano Colonna
Krysztof Szu­manski, Paolo Orsini
Len­us Carlson, Car­din­al Or­vi­eto
Clem­ens Bieber, Bar­on­celli
Steph­en Bronk, Cecco del Vec­chio
Gernot Frischling, Ri­en­zi Stand-in
Or­ches­tra of the Deutsche Op­er Ber­lin
Se­basti­an Lang-Less­ing, con­duct­or
Chor­us and Ex­tra-Chor­us of the Deutsche Op­er Ber­lin
Wil­li­am Spauld­ing, chor­us mas­ter

The op­era re­cord­ing is ac­com­pan­ied by a mak­ing of doc­u­ment­ary show­ing the sta­ging pro­cess of this Ri­en­zi pro­duc­tion.