Melbourne Opera made a terrific contribution to the Melbourne Ring Festival with their concert performance of Richard Wagner’s early operatic success, Rienzi. A blaze of stirring choruses and heroic solos, the glorious music of this Australian premiere swept over the capacity audience, transporting them to a bygone age.

Rienzi in Concert was performed on Sunday 8 December 2013 at Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne.

Rienzi Melbourne Opera - Rosamund Illing as Adriano
Rienzi Melbourne Opera – Rosamund Illing as Adriano

“Another return to the stage of great significance was the thrilling appearance of renowned soprano Rosamund Illing. Looking exquisite in electric blue sequins, organza and silk, Illing was back where she belongs. Playing the trousers role of Irene’s ardent admirer Adriano, Illing thrilled the house with the exquisite act three aria “In seiner Blüte bleicht mein Leben.” Illing’s years of playing tragic heroines shone through as she expertly conveyed the horror of Adriano’s final moments, killed in a blaze while trying to rescue Irene and Rienzi.”

Read the full review here: Simon Parris – December 9 2013

The score makes great demands of its singers. The plot tells of a vicious princess who enjoys murdering young men who fall in love with her. It has an ambitious hero who is silent when the slave girl who loves him is tortured. “For those in love, suffering is a joy,” she sings. Sadomasochism is the opera’s dominant feature and it is those dangerous pathological undertones that count.

Turandot - Rosamund Illing as Liu
Turandot – Rosamund Illing as Liu

“But the finest singing of the night came from Rosamund Illing, whose slave girl Liu has the depth of feeling necessary to explicate the opera’s principal theme of the redemptive power of love. The richness of her timbre is like an unexpected manoeuvre in lovemaking.”

Read the review: The Age – John Slavin – November 21, 2006