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!

The Running Rhinemaiden

Lauren McNeese keeps in shape, whether she’s in rehearsal or not. As both a Rhinemaiden and a Valkyrie in the Ring cycle, she is swimming, jumping, parachuting —and of course singing—up and down the stage. And in her time off, Lauren is doing yoga and training for San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers 12K race! A busy mezzo-soprano travelling the country, Lauren sang Wellgunde with us in 2008 and has also performed it in Los Angeles and Chicago.


I love Ring Cycles!  Besides the incredible music, I love the people.  I love the camaraderie and innate ensemble nature of the piece. It is a piece that unifies the performers as we all strive together to tell an intricate story full of love, greed, loss, courage, betrayal and redemption. 



By Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde and Rossweisse) on Monday, May 9, 2011

Always a Bridesmaid...and Finally a Bride

Tenor Jay Hunter Morris really knows Siegfried. He recently covered the role with Seattle Opera in summer 2009 and Los Angeles Opera in fall and spring 2010. He will cover the role again in fall 2011 at the Metropolitan Opera. But this time, the man waiting in the wings will finally step out on the stage. This summer, Jay makes his official debut as young Siegfried with San Francisco Opera.
Okay, so I’m going to sing young Siegfried. In San Francisco. YIKES! Maybe some of you out there wanna know what that feels like? You think you want a peek behind this curtain? I’ll try and explain.


By Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried) on Friday, May 6, 2011

Return to SF, in Boots

Bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi is a former Adler Fellow and alumnus of the Merola Opera Program. His first role with the Company, while an Adler Fellow in 1992, was Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. An old pro at several roles in the Ring cycle, Daniel most recently appeared as Hagen at Opera du Rhin, Strasbourg in their new David McVicar staging of Gotterdammerung. He returns to San Francisco Opera this time to sing Fafner and Hunding.
It has been a little over 20 years since I first came to San Francisco Opera to sing an informational audition for Lotfi Mansouri and Sarah Billinghurst for the 1992 Merola Opera Program.


By Daniel Sumegi (Fafner and Hunding) on Thursday, May 5, 2011

Character Inspiration

Singers and actors prepare for roles in many different ways and our Ring cast is no different. Of course, there are many great sources through the Nordic legends, but sometimes it is helpful to see things that are more connected to contemporary life. I find that it is often helpful for people to watch films, read books or look at artwork to experience more deeply the essence of a character they are playing. Sometimes operatic inspiration can come from unusual places.
Here is a list of various sources of inspiration I gave to a number of performers in our Ring cycle.


By Francesca Zambello (Director) on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Woman, Many Costumes

Mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas is a former Adler Fellow who we welcome back to the fold this summer to sing two roles and cover another in the Ring. Several weeks ago she sang a Schwabacher Debut Recital at Temple Emanu-el which featured, among other things, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder. These days she is keeping busy in staging rehearsals, music rehearsals and costume fittings for her roles as Waltraute (Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung), the Second Norn (Götterdämmerung) and as the cover for Fricka (Rheingold and Die Walküre).
I first became involved in San Francisco Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen back in 2008 in Francesca Zambello’s production of Das Rheingold.


By Daveda Karanas (Waltraute, Second Norn & Fricka cover) on Monday, May 2, 2011

Displaying results 21-25 (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