Wagner’s ‘Rienzi’ takes a cartoon-like turn

By George Loomis [Int’l Herald Tribune, 21 October 2008]

BREMEN, Germany: History has assured that politics are inextricably bound up with the artistic output of Richard Wagner, but only one of his operas focuses on a political leader. The title character of his early grand opera “Rienzi” is the tribune of the people in 14th century Rome, and the way he works a crowd is almost frightening. Hitler saw a performance in 1953, when he was 15 and was transported to “a state of complete ecstasy and rapture,” according to the recollection years later of a friend, August Kubizek, who accompanied him.