This is my umpteenth Ring
cycle, and in many ways it is the most gratifying and exciting of the lot.
For one thing, we have many distinguished artists performing their roles for the first time...it has to be by far the largest number of role debuts in any of the Ring cycles I’ve worked on in the past 21 years. Brünnhilde, Wotan, Siegfried (both of them!), Siegmund, Sieglinde, Erda…all are being undertaken by their respective artists for the first time.
With so many new faces, rehearsing is a little more stimulating and challenging. We are really “rediscovering” the Ring, and I feel that I am helping to shape voices and interpretations which will define these roles for the next generation of Ring cycles. [Above: Eric Weimer and San Francisco Opera Head of Music Staff John Parr observe an early Die Walküre staging rehearsal during some down time.]
Yesterday we had our first rehearsal of singers and orchestra for Götterdämmerung. Now I’m not really assigned to that opera; I’ve been conducting most of the rehearsals for Walküre and Siegfried. So this was my first exposure to the Götterdämmerung cast, and the experience confirmed my general impression of our whole project: of all the Ring cycles that I’ve worked on, this one has the best overall level of singing. I can’t go into more detail, because I don’t want to slight any of the formidable artists with whom I’ve worked on those other 11 Ring cycles that I’ve prepared, each one of which boasted many distinguished, unforgettable performances. It’s just that here the overall level is so extraordinarily high. Some of these roles I’ve just never heard more beautifully—or commandingly—sung.
[Above: Eric Weimer conducts a rehearsal of Die Walküre]