Release date: 6/12/2018
Lectures, Exhibits, Film Screenings and Concerts Offered in Conjunction with Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung)
RING updated June 2018.pdf Photos Available
San Francisco Opera’s presentation of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) opens tonight with the first of three complete cycles, each presented over the course of one week as the composer originally intended, from June 12 through July 1 at the War Memorial Opera House. Encompassing four operas—Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—and more than 17 hours, Wagner’s Ring is one of the most ambitious works of music, theater and stagecraft ever created.
San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock said: “If there is one artistic undertaking that demonstrates the complete mettle of an opera company it is Wagner’s Ring. San Francisco Opera has a storied history with this life-affirming work, and it is a great privilege for all of us to bring it to the stage once again. There are no bounds to how far one can explore this monumental artwork and we are happy to present many engaging Ring Festival events around the cycles. This is a unique opportunity to get immersed in one unbelievably powerful event.”
Wagner’s tetralogy is presented in the “boldly contemporary” (New York Times) production by American director Francesca Zambello, first unveiled as a full cycle at San Francisco Opera in 2011. Zambello commented: “Since directing the Ring here in 2011 and again in 2016 in Washington, D.C., I found the power of the work seems even more contemporary. The great overarching themes of the Ring—nature, love, power and corruption—resound through America's past and haunt our present. As I have worked on it I find I have placed more emphasis on the role of the family and the power of redemption through all the female characters.”
Donald Runnicles conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and a cast featuring some of the world’s leading Wagnerians, including Iréne Theorin, Greer Grimsley, Daniel Brenna, Karita Mattila, Brandon Jovanovich, Falk Struckmann, Jamie Barton and many others.
The Ring begins with Das Rheingold (June 12, 19 and 26), a prologue to the cycle relating how Alberich steals the magic gold to craft the ring of power. The ring is taken by the king of the gods, Wotan, who must forfeit the cursed object as payment to the giants Fafner and Fasolt for building Valhalla. American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley brings his celebrated portrayal of Wotan to the War Memorial Opera House stage for the first time and American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton performs as the goddess Fricka. German bass-baritone and Ring veteran Falk Struckmann makes his Company and role debuts as Alberich. Tenors Štefan Margita and David Cangelosi portray Loge and Mime, respectively, roles they performed in 2011. Also featured are baritone Brian Mulligan as Donner; tenor Brandon Jovanovich as Froh; soprano Julie Adams as Freia; and Ronnita Miller as Erda. Basses Andrea Silvestrelli and Raymond Aceto are the giants Fasolt and Fafner; the Rhinemaidens are Stacey Tappan (Woglinde), Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde) and Renée Tatum (Flosshilde).
Die Walküre (June 13, 20 and 27) begins with the reunion of twins Sieglinde and Siegmund and culminates in the punishment of the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, for aiding the mortal siblings and, therefore, defying her father, Wotan. Renowned Finnish soprano Karita Mattila sings Sieglinde and Brandon Jovanovich reprises his acclaimed portrayal of the valiant Siegmund. Raymond Aceto is Sieglinde’s husband, Hunding. Renowned Wagnerian soprano Iréne Theorin, who made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2011 in the title role of Puccini’s Turandot, portrays Brünnhilde. Greer Grimsley and Jamie Barton return as Wotan and Fricka. The Valkyries are performed by Julie Adams, Nicole Birkland, Sarah Cambidge, Melissa Citro, Laura Krumm, Lauren McNeese, Renée Rapier and Renée Tatum.
Siegfried (June 15, 22 and 29) is the Ring’s third episode and it follows the emergence of the titular hero, his recovery of the ring from Fafner the dragon and his awakening of Brünnhilde within a ring of magic fire. American tenor Daniel Brenna makes his Company debut as Siegfried, a role he has performed with great distinction in Washington, D.C. and on many stages in Europe. Iréne Theorin returns as Brünnhilde, David Cangelosi is Mime, Greer Grimsley is Wotan (now in disguise as The Wanderer), Falk Struckmann is Alberich, Raymond Aceto is Fafner, Stacey Tappan is the forest bird and Ronnita Miller is Erda.
The Ring’s powerful conclusion, Götterdämmerung (June 17, 24 and July 1), depicts Brünnhilde’s sacrifice, the return of the ring to the Rhinemaidens and the destruction of Valhalla, making way for a new era of humanity. Iréne Theorin and Daniel Brenna return in their heroic roles as Brünnhilde and Siegfried. Melissa Citro and Brian Mulligan portray the Gibichung siblings Gutrune and Gunther. Andrea Silvestrelli reprises his 2011 portrayal of the scheming Hagen; Jamie Barton is Waltraute and Falk Struckmann is Alberich. The Norns, weaving the threads of destiny, are portrayed by Jamie Barton, Sarah Cambidge and Ronnita Miller. The Rhinemaidens are, again, Tappan, McNeesse and Tatum.
Reunited with Zambello for these presentations are the production’s creative team of set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Mark McCullough and projection designers S. Katy Tucker and Jan Hartley. Laurie Feldman is associate director and Denni Sayers is associate director and choreographer. Company Chorus Director Ian Robertson prepares the San Francisco Opera Chorus for Götterdämmerung, the only opera in the cycle to use chorus.
Zambello commented on changes in the production since its previous stagings: “It seemed that parts of the imagery needed to be rethought as the physical world has changed. In all the operas, but especially Rhinegold, many of the projections are new. We wanted to change the start of the cycle to focus more on the purity of nature, so we begin with a new version of evolution which slowly expands to eventually create water.”
According to Zambello, advances in technology have influenced her updated 2018 production: “Every time we revisit this production there is a change in technology which has helped the visual landscape. One major change is the use of special LED lights in the floor. Now the floor becomes an equally important canvas for the projections to communicate our settings, the same way the projections are on the walls and backdrop.”
Regarded as one of the world's leading companies in presenting the Ring, San Francisco Opera first produced Wagner's masterwork in 1935 with Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund/Siegfried), Elisabeth Rethberg (Sieglinde) and Friedrich Schorr (Wotan), with Artur Bodanzky conducting. In 1972, the Company staged the Ring as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations with Birgit Nilsson (Brünnhilde) and Jess Thomas (Siegmund/Siegfried). A new production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff was unveiled in 1985. Maestro Runnicles led presentations of the Ring at San Francisco Opera in 1990, 1999 and the premiere of the new production by Francesca Zambello in 2011.
For full details of past San Francisco Opera presentations of the Ring, visit the online performance archive at archive.sfopera.com.
Complementing the highly-anticipated performances of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco Opera presents its ongoing Ring Festival of ancillary events and activities. Designed to provide informative and engaging ways to explore Wagner’s profound masterwork, the Ring Festival, which is presented in partnership with community institutions and local businesses, offers many opportunities for the public to complete their Ring experience. Continuing through July 1, the Ring Festival features a diverse schedule of lectures, exhibitions, film screenings, musical programs and opportunities to hear from artists, production team members and Wagner experts. For more information and full schedule, visit sfopera.com/ringfestival.
*For the complete press release, including full Ring cast and calendar, please view the attached PDF.