Staff objections have led Berlin’s biggest opera house, the Deutsche Oper, to drop plans to perform Hitler’s favourite opera. The opening night was to be April 20th, Hitler’s birthday. Wagner’s Rienzi (Last of the Tribunes) was said by Hitler to be a major influence on his political thinking. Rienzi is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.
The actual impact of the opera on Hitler has been widely debated, but certainly there are clear affinities between the plot and Hitler’s actions; one commentator Thomas Grey has very interestingly stated “In every step of Rienzi’s career – from … acclamation as leader of the Volk through military struggle, violent suppression of mutinous factions, betrayal and … final immolation – Hitler would doubtless have found sustenance for his fantasies.”