Early works by major composers can be fascinating. We try to see in them premonitions of the greatness to come, or hope they will cast light on a more familiar later work. The Opera Orchestra of New York’s concert presentation of Rienzi, Richard Wagner’s third opera, was fairly useless in this regard: most of Rienzi sounds nothing like mature Wagner. But it justifies itself on its own merits, a grand opera of impressive effect and achievement. This scrappy but exciting performance sometimes rose to the occasion.You can read the full review here. I put in a fair amount of background because a) this is an unusual piece and I think it helps to know where it's coming from and b) the program didn't provide a single bit of notes, not even a synopsis. Other than the work itself the discovery of the afternoon was mezzo Géraldine Chauvet. She sounded a little overparted and strained at a few of the climaxes but it was a super performance. As Irene Elisabete Matos walked the line between old style divatude and a parody of old style divatude, often not quite having the voice to back up her bravado. Ian Storey had a rough time of it as Rienzi, no better than his gargled Énée of a year ago. But I'm glad I went!
I am very busy at work currently and probably won't make it to many live performances in February, but I hope to have some other things to write about.