Red-and-black faces all round: Berlin forced to reschedule Hitler's favourite opera

It’s been a while since the Deutsche Oper last saw Rienzi, and April 20 seemed a good date to launch the house’s centennial season.

But then someone remembered that Wagner’s first opera used to be Hitler’s favourite, and April 20 was his birthday.

Oops. Seriously oops. More here.

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  • “He who must not be named”‘s favorite opera was D’Albert’s “Tiefland”. He would apparently sit and weep throughout the performances of the work whilst an art student in Vienna and apparently would go night after night as he did later on with performances of “The Merry Widow”. (Which was his favorite operetta, despite the fact that it had 2 Jewish librettists.)

  • According to the Deutsches Oper Berlin website here this is not a new production of ‘Rienzi.’ It is a revival of the heavily edited Philipp Stölzl production of the opera that recasts Rienzi as a 20th century fascist dictator with a curious fetish for uniforms, armbands, and (in the latter acts) life in a bunker well below the city. In fact, Mr. Stölzl’s production (filmed and released on DVD by Arthaus Musik and reviewed here: (on my blog) is a poke in the eye to Hitler and an indictment of the Nazification of Europe in the 1930s.

    It is true that Hitler idealized the character of Rienzi (and that the autograph score most likely perished in his bunker along with the dictator, but I hardly think that this revival was meant to in any way endorse Hitler or condone his actions. Still, in the interests of national sensitivity it makes sense to move the premiere.

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