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Richard Wagner's 'Orphans' | By Matthew Gurewitsch -

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May 20, 2013, 5:23 p.m. ET

Wagner's 'Orphans'


22. follows in the romantic footsteps of Carl Maria von Weber and Heinrich Marschner. In April. The convoluted fantasy "Die Feen" ("The Fairies.05." answering no in 7. posed the question "Is Wagner bad for us?. Jonas Kaufmann starred in the Metropolitan Opera's new "Parsifal" in February. " 2/4 . der Letzte der Tribunen.13 Richard Wagner's 'Orphans' | By Matthew Gurewitsch . Festivities have been in full swing for some time. with no end in sight. The Bayreuth Festival has a new "Ring des Nibelungen" lined up for July. Wednesday is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner.500 brilliant words. "Das Liebesverbot" ("The Ban on Love. Nicholas Spice. publisher of the London Review of Books." The least gratuitous observances of the great milestone may be scattered efforts to rehabilitate three early operas Wagner excluded from his canon. (May I mention my pre-emptive "Random Walk Through the Ring." posted at the rate of a tweet a day throughout 2012 @ring366?) Birthday candles blazing this week should rival the finale of "Götterdämmerung. der Letzte der Tribunen" online." 1836) translates Shakespeare's misanthropic comedy "Measure for Measure" into a kind of Teutonic bel canto.WSJ.wsj." 1834).com Andreas Birkigt Leipzig Opera's staging of 'Rienzi.' one of Richard Wagner's three early operas that he later disowned. based on a play by Carlo Gozzi.

In the themes. tribune of the people. the vocal lines soar and the spell of the tempestuous. the cities of Leipzig. takes up the epic mode of French grand opera. But unlike the canonical works. proving between them that Wagner hit his target. The viceroy prefigures the self-lacerating baritone heroes who were to become a Wagner specialty. after a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. At the same time. he refuses to quash them while he still can. Wagner had the breakthrough he had long dreamt of. which have literary antecedents but somehow seem not to. When they play him ("Rienzi. a mortal and a deathless fairy have married.13 Richard Wagner's 'Orphans' | By Matthew Gurewitsch . a poet in love with the categorical imperative. A secondary knight errant and his sprightly lady love provide comic relief. Chaos descends. so language that foreshadows that of the canon from "Der fliegende Holländer" (1841) to "Parsifal" (1882) should not surprise us. these early operas are prophetic. "Rienzi" aims to steal the thunder of Giacomo Meyerbeer. In "Das Liebesverbot" (composed. His mask soon slips. the music of the juvenilia anticipates themes and moods—the sullen introspection.wsj. some as his worst. has included them in "Wagner: Complete Operas. reaches out to the predatory nobles. online. In its pomp and pageantry. and withdrawn when Wagner was 22). Medieval Rome totters at the brink of civil war. With "Rienzi. sometimes with disarming results. and Bayreuth. the rejects also ring with revealing verbal echoes from masterpieces that fired Wagner's imagination ("The Magic Flute. the opera went unperformed until after his death." " Wagner's orphans have long led a shadow existence at the fringe of operatic life. the gallants Claudio and Luzio. Wagner could not help viewing Shakespeare's rowdy. whose blockbusters for the Paris Opera (by this time "Robert le Diable" and "Les Huguenots") his contemporaries ranked with Michelangelo's "Last Judgment. given just once. The trials they endure are as arbitrary as they are unsurprising. The libretto reads like the dramas of Friedrich Schiller. The idealist Rienzi.html#printMode 3/4 .WSJ. characters and moods they explore. Last of the Tribunes. Victorian that he was. seem ready to fly off into the sunset of Viennese operetta." but musically it's a magic-carpet ride.05. a death sentence is lifted. Linear thinkers may bridle at "Die Feen. At moments of impetuous ardor. conscientious to a fault. But this year. Luck." a bicentennial bargain box of blue-chip reissues. pluck and virtue prevail.22." 1840). The emotions flame high. the ecstatic jubilation—that define the poles of Wagner's spiritual universe. where Wagner was born. have joined forces to showcase them as a series. to an often uncanny degree. As always." Some critics have mocked "Rienzi" as Meyerbeer's best opera. Written when Wagner was 20. Defying fate." completed when Wagner was 27 and produced two years later. devious Elizabethans in a moralistic but sentimental light. exposing villainy of the deepest dye. where he built his shrine (the Festspielhaus) and was laid to rest (notwithstanding his death in Venice). a holier-than-thou German viceroy comes to stamp out sin in Palermo. And Deutsche Grammophon. Wagner served as his own librettist. star-spangled orchestral writing is hard to resist." "Der Freischütz"). both tenors. and the irrepressible carnival spirit that drives the overture triumphs anew. non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law . the overture and the preparations for battle build with awesome force.22." His august yet somber prayer in the final act has taken on a life of its own as a beloved recital piece. on page D5 in the U. Rienzi's marathon role rivals or surpasses the notorious demands confronting the hero of "Siegfried. In an intriguing tip of the hat to a tradition on its way The orchestral and choral writing sweeps all before it.djreprints. Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company. Petersburg could make history with this score. the Mariinsky Theatre of St. It's worth waiting for. edition of The Wall Street Journal.wsj. presents a riveting case for the opera on the stage. the fiery nobleman Adriano is written for a woman. A production by Philipp Stölzl for the Deutsche Oper Berlin. if not already dead and buried. please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit w w w . Gurewitsch is a writer on Maui. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies. A version of this article appeared May 20. which he may have had with him in the bunker at the time of his suicide.html#printMode 4/4 . Portly of frame but glistening with animal magnetism. Merging images of Weimar decadence and totalitarianism make complete intuitive sense.) The characters are a vivid bunch. Mussolini and Charlie Chaplin's Adenoid Hynkel. the heldentenor Torsten Kerl revels in the challenges of the title role. (A Bayreuth staging conducted by Christian Thielemann is scheduled for July. with the headline: Wagner's 'Orphans'. Valery Gergiev should take a look.05. All Rights Reserved This copy is for your personal. He owned the manuscript. Philippe Jordan leads concert performances at the Salzburg Festival in August. eerily yet aptly channeling Hitler.13 Richard Wagner's 'Orphans' | By Matthew Gurewitsch .com online. For the record: "Rienzi" was said to be der Führer's favorite opera. And whether in the opera house or in concert. No one has seen it since. filmed in 2010 and available on DVD from Arthaus.S. Inc. 2013.