In anticipation of San Francisco Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), the Company presents Notes from Valhalla, a behind-the-scenes blog about the rehearsals and performances of Wagner’s greatest work. During the next two months, there will be frequent postings from the cast and company members providing insight into the creative process; offering up details about staging and musical rehearsals; sharing production and performance notes; and highlighting informative thoughts about particular Ring characters—as well as some light-hearted commentary. From high atop Valhalla, the mythical home of the gods, this is a unique opportunity to have a window into the world of the preparation and presentation of SF Opera’s new RingHo-jo-to-ho!

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Ring

Why do people keep putting on Wagner's Ring? I asked myself this question recently because I knew nothing about it besides the bare basics: it's long, it's about some fable-like characters, there's this golden ring, there are tons of fans around the world who travel to see the next performance of the cycle like it's the next tour of The Grateful Dead (RIP), and it's full of loud singers with a full orchestra. One piece of advice people love to give a young tenor is: "Stay away from Wagner! People are going to ask you to sing it too early, and you won't have a voice left after!" This was, to say the least, a deterrent from me wanting to look into Wagner any further. But, then as a second-year Adler Fellow, I found myself in the unique position of covering the small lyric role of Froh in Das Rheingold; the first of the four operas in the Ring cycle.



By Brian Jagde (Froh cover) on Friday, May 20, 2011

Go Big by Going Small

Every time I do a Ring cycle I am continually astounded by just how big it is.
Every piece of it is big: the sweeping, epic, lush music that not only accompanies the story but comments on it through musical leitmotifs; the mythological storyline spanning generations and sprawling over four operas; the dozens of very human characters whose intense emotional journeys clearly reflect our own struggles and dreams; the dense symbology and alliterative poetry of the libretto; the huge technical demands of portraying onstage swimming mermaids, giant dragons, and the cataclysmic fire and flood that brings about the end of the world; the vocal power necessary for the singers to carry their voices expressively over an enormous orchestra; not to mention the logistical nightmare of scheduling rehearsals for the thing.


By Stacey Tappan (Woglinde & Forest Bird) on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Props...That's My Job"

As the month of May continues to whiz by, so do our rehearsals for San Francisco Opera's current challenge—namely the staging of the entire Ring of the Nibelungen. With the first installment (a stand alone performance of Siegfried) due to grace the stage over Memorial Day weekend, time is getting tight. So tight, in fact, that yesterday (May 10) was the last day we could operate on the actual set in the rehearsal facility. It was broken down and whisked away by our ever-efficient stage crew for reassembly on the Opera House stage immediately post rehearsal.


By David Cangelosi ( Mime) on Monday, May 16, 2011


There are few feelings more horrifying to someone who works in the opera business than the feeling of a cough or cold coming on. If you’re a singer, it’s bad news because it can surely prevent you from singing well, singing safely, or even singing at all. However, it’s horrifying even if you’re not a singer. At the first cough, you feel like the elephant in the room. Whether you’re contagious or not, you’re a threat, both to health and morale. No one who makes their living with their vocal cords wants to listen to you coughing, believe me.

As Assistant Director on Götterdämmerung, it’s my job to be at all the rehearsals.   In a nutshell, I help everyone rehearse and perform efficiently. I take notes, help plan the schedule, suggest where to start again if we’ve stopped. 



By Elise Sandell (Assisant Director, Götterdämmerung) on Friday, May 13, 2011

Let's Get Physical

Choreographer and dancer Lawrence Pech has been dance master for San Francisco Opera for fourteen years. Normally his job includes choreographing ballet and period dances for operas like Aida, Turandot and The Merry Widow. Choreographing four operas that contain no dance—now that’s a something most of us don’t expect. Larry Pech explains.
Having worked with Ms. Zambello on a number of projects, I know she doesn’t want the people on stage to just do “the happy peasant dance” (unless, that is, she actually wants the happy peasant dance). 


By Lawrence Pech (Choreographer) on Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Displaying results 16-20 (of 30)
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Ring Withdrawal by David Gockley (General Director) July 12, 2011
Ring Symposia by San Francisco Opera Education Department July 7, 2011
Ring Cycle Cast Party by Photos by Kristen Loken June 22, 2011
Mission Control by Micah Standley (Media Team Score Reader) June 17, 2011
Ring Training by Laura Albers (Ring Cycle Concertmaster) June 14, 2011
Ring Statistics by San Francisco Opera June 10, 2011
Herding Cats by Linda Rodriguez (Senior Accountant and Supernumerary) June 8, 2011
A Journey Through the Fire by Paul Ziller (Production Super Captain and Graphic Designer) June 6, 2011
A Day in the Life of a Rehearsal Conductor by Sara Jobin (Assistant Conductor) June 2, 2011
Ring Cycle Artwork by Michael Schwab (Artist) May 31, 2011
Siegfried's Lens by Ian Storey (Siegfried) May 28, 2011
One Down, Three to Go by Francesca Zambello (Director) May 27, 2011
Sizzlin' Sitzprobe by David Cangelosi (Mime) May 26, 2011
It Takes a Village... by Christopher Verdosci (Assistant Costume Director) May 25, 2011
Rediscovering the Ring by Eric Weimer (Rehearsal Conductor) May 23, 2011
How I learned to stop worrying and love the Ring by Brian Jagde (Froh cover) May 20, 2011
Go Big by Going Small by Stacey Tappan (Woglinde & Forest Bird) May 18, 2011
"Props...That's My Job" by David Cangelosi ( Mime) May 16, 2011
Exiled by Elise Sandell (Assisant Director, Götterdämmerung) May 13, 2011
Let's Get Physical by Lawrence Pech (Choreographer) May 11, 2011
The Running Rhinemaiden by Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde and Rossweisse) May 9, 2011
Always a Bridesmaid...and Finally a Bride by Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried) May 6, 2011
Return to SF, in Boots by Daniel Sumegi (Fafner and Hunding) May 5, 2011
Character Inspiration by Francesca Zambello (Director) May 4, 2011
One Woman, Many Costumes by Daveda Karanas (Waltraute, Second Norn & Fricka cover) May 2, 2011
The Breakfast Nook by Francesca Zambello (Director) April 29, 2011
Ring of Fire by David Cangelosi (Mime) April 28, 2011
Week Three of Rehearsals by Francesca Zambello (Director) April 27, 2011
The Third Norn by Heidi Melton (Third Norn & Sieglinde) April 25, 2011
Rehearsals Have Begun by Francesca Zambello (Director) April 22, 2011