There is nothing quite like Der Ring des Nibelungen (1848-74). It is an epic unsurpassed in musical history. It begins, at the start of Das Rheingold, when the dwarf Alberich steals enchanted gold and forges a mighty ring to rule over his race; by the time Götterdämmerung closes, the very heavens have burnt and the era of the gods is over. Between, Wagner steers us through the ultimate combination of fairy tale and medieval romance, complete with magical slumber, river nymphs and a dragon.
A complete staging of the Ring represents a herculean undertaking for any company. Wagner’s ultimate gesamtkunstwerk spans four operas and sixteen hours, and requires such forces that every production is an event in itself. As such, it is often prohibitively expensive – stalls seats for the Royal Opera’s 2012 cycle cost £1,000 – and so difficult for even some of its most committed admirers to witness.
Over the past four years, Opera North performed each part sequentially, to critical acclaim and sell-out audiences in the north and the midlands. Now, in the summer of 2016, they will bring the Ring to the Southbank Centre, a first for the venue. With some tickets for the entire set selling for a mere £90, this looks to be one of the most accessible productions even staged. Whether you’re a hardened Wagnerian or wish to encounter his work for the first time, this is one set of sixteen hours you would be unwise to miss.
In the hands of director Peter Mumford – who began his career as a lighting designer – Opera North’s production refutes the Ring’s easy stereotypes. There will be no valkyries in horned Viking helmets and glimmering breastplates. Cleverly using gigantic video instillations to enhance the sense of drama while keeping the focus on the orchestra and soloists, there have been few recent cycles so centered around Wagner’s music. For Richard Farnes, conductor and outgoing director of Opera North, it looks to be a final triumph before he retires from his role. He will be joined by a cast of Opera North stalwarts, many from the company’s individual productions of the cycle, including Jo Pohlheim, Alwyn Mellor, Kelly Cae Hogan and Mats Almgren.
|What||Wagner's Ring Cycle, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 28 Jun 16, 7:00 PM – 9:40 PM
On 29 Jun 16, 5:00 PM – 10:20 PM
On 01 Jul 16, 5:00 PM – 10:15 PM
On 03 Jul 16, 2:50 PM – 8:50 PM
|Price||£25-75 (individual); £90-270 (whole cycle)|
|Website||Click here to book via the Southbank Centre|