San Francisco Opera Announces Casting for Richard Wagner's "Der Ring Des Nibelungen"

Release date: 9/26/2016    

 Three Cycles Presented June 12July 1, 2018

Visionary Production of Four-Opera Ring Cycle by Director Francesca Zambello; Donald Runnicles Conducts

Trio of Renowned Wagnerians Make Their Company Debuts: German Soprano Evelyn Herlitzius, American Tenor Daniel Brenna and German Bass-Baritone Falk Struckmann

International Cast Includes Greer Grimsley, Karita Mattila, Brandon Jovanovich, Štefan Margita, Jamie Barton

Ring casting announcement Sept 26 2016.pdf  Photos Available 

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock today announced the casting and schedule for the Company’s summer 2018 presentations of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). The four-opera cycle of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—widely considered the greatest and most ambitious work ever conceived for the lyric stage—will be presented in three complete cycles from June 12 through July 1, 2018. Francesca Zambello directs the visually spectacular production of Wagner’s epic narrative of gods, mortals, corruption and redemption, which premiered at the War Memorial Opera House in June 2011. Donald Runnicles, one of the world’s foremost Wagnerian conductors, reunites with Zambello and the production to lead the cast and San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Tickets for the complete four-opera Ring cycle are now on sale to current San Francisco Opera subscribers and donors only. Four-opera cycle tickets go on sale for the general public beginning in January 2017.

Shilvock said, “The Ring is one of humanity’s defining works of expression. Its narrative sweep charts the creation and destruction of the world and such an epic undertaking coalesces the incredible forces of San Francisco Opera in a powerful way. I couldn’t be more delighted that we are undertaking this journey in San Francisco and am excited to connect audiences and Company together in this profound experience.”

San Francisco Opera has assembled an exceptional international cast of the world’s leading Wagnerians for the 2018 Ring cycle, beginning with an exciting trio of artists who are new to the Company. German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius (“towering vocal strength, meeting all the challenges of the score with vibrant, thrilling tone,” Opera News) makes her highly anticipated Company debut in the pivotal role of Brünnhilde who appears in three of the four operas: Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. She has performed Brünnhilde at the Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Munich’s Bavarian Opera House, Bayreuther Festpiele and other European opera houses. American tenor Daniel Brenna (“an exciting baritonal sound that can hold its own against the orchestra’s most withering fire,” Parterre) first bows with San Francisco Opera as Siegfried in both Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, a role for which he earned critical acclaim during the 2016 revival of Zambello’s production of the Ring at Washington National Opera. Well known for his accomplished performances in Wagner’s works, especially the Ring, German bass-baritone Falk Struckmann (“Commanding voice and musical intelligence,” New York Times) makes his Company and role debuts as Alberich in Das Rheingold, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.

Following his unforgettable 2013 performances here as the Dutchman in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer, American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley (“as fine a Wotan as you are likely to encounter on today’s operatic scene,” Seen and Heard) returns to the Company as Wotan/The Wanderer. Admired worldwide for his performances of this central role in the cycle, Grimsley’s well-regarded portrayal will finally come to San Francisco Opera in 2018. Providing a glimpse of her Sieglinde at the David Gockley Gala in June 2016, distinguished Finnish soprano Karita Mattila will sing the role in all three cycles. American tenor Brandon Jovanovich reprises the roles of Froh in Das Rheingold and Siegmund in Die Walküre. Triumphant as Adalgisa in the Company’s 2014 performances of Bellini’s Norma, American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton will sing the roles of Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre and Waltraute in Götterdämmerung.

Štefan Margita and David Cangelosi reprise their vividly etched performances of Loge and Mime respectively, portrayals for which the two tenors were highly praised in the Company’s 2011 Ring. American bass Raymond Aceto sings the roles of Fafner in Das Rheingold and Siegfried and Hunding in Die Walküre while Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli will unleash his deep bass voice as Fasolt in Das Rheingold and Hagen in Götterdämmerung. American baritone Brian Mulligan takes on the roles of Donner in Das Rheingold and Gunther in Götterdämmerung. Also featured are Merola Program alumni mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller (Erda) and soprano Melissa Citro (Gutrune); and Stacey Tappan (Woglinde and the Forest Bird), Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde) and Renée Tatum (Flosshilde). Additional Ring casting will be announced in January 2017.

Currently the General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Maestro Donald Runnicles reunites with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus to conduct all 12 performances. Runnicles, who was last on the War Memorial podium in June 2015 to lead performances of Berlioz's colossal Les Troyens, has previously conducted the Ring in San Francisco in 1990, 1999 and 2011.

When first unveiled as a complete four-opera cycle during the 2011 Ring Festival, the New York Times hailed Zambello’s production as “boldly contemporary.” The San Francisco Chronicle observed: “San Francisco Opera's most ambitious undertaking in years also turned out to be the company's greatest triumph.” Zambello revisited elements of the staging for its May 2016 revival at the Washington National Opera, and the production earned considerable acclaim in the nation’s capital. “Francesca Zambello’s Ring cycle is strong and moving, thought-provoking and powerful,” praised Anne Midgette of The Washington Post, who concluded, “My bottom line for any production, updated or not, is the quality of its storytelling, and this is where Zambello excelled. When a production creates characters that move you, and get you to re-engage with the work in new ways, it is succeeding.” Metro Weekly commented: “The beautiful imagery, [Michael] Yeargan’s evocative sets and Zambello’s clear storytelling make for a powerful vehicle.”

Setting the narrative with visuals from various periods of American history, the director argues for the work’s timeless quality. "The Ring is always contemporary. We are presenting a world in some ways familiar to our audience but also one that will feel very mythic as we look to our country's rich imagery," says Zambello. "The great themes of the Ring—nature, power and corruption—resound through America's past and haunt our present."

Along with Zambello, the creative team includes set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Mark McCullough, projection designers S. Katy Tucker and Jan Hartley and chorus director Ian Robertson. The Ring is a co-production with Washington National Opera.

All artists will perform their roles in each of the three cycles, which are scheduled for June 12–17, June 19–24 and June 26–July 1, 2018. Ring cycles performances take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. To provide Ring aficionados and those who are new to the work additional points of engagement, San Francisco Opera will partner with Bay Area cultural institutions to present myriad activities during the 2018 Ring Festival, including lectures, events and other activities.  The full calendar of ancillary activities will be announced at a later date. For more information, visit

Regarded as one of the world's leading companies in presenting the entire Ring cycle, San Francisco Opera's storied history with Wagner's masterwork goes back eight decades. The Company's first presentation of the Ring came in 1935 with Friedrich Schorr (Wotan), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund/Siegfried), Elisabeth Rethberg (Sieglinde) and Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde), the latter in the first complete Ring of her legendary career. Later stagings were in 1972, 1985, 1990, 1999 and 2011. The City of San Francisco has also played host to two other presentations of the Ring: a complete cycle in 1900 by the touring Metropolitan Opera at the Grand Opera House and a partial Ring in 1931 by veteran soprano Johanna Gadski's touring Grand German Opera Company at the Civic Auditorium.

Tickets and Information

Tickets for Wagner’s Ring are currently offered in complete four-opera cycles and are available for purchase to current San Francisco Opera subscribers and donors only. Complete cycles are priced from $190 to $3,420 and include a tax-deductible contribution to provide extra support for this monumental production. Non-donors and subscribers can become eligible to buy the Ring during this priority period by donating $75 or more. To become a donor, contact the San Francisco Opera Box Office [301 Van Ness Avenue, or by phone at (415) 864-3330] or visit The Ring will be available to the general public for purchase as four-opera cycles beginning in January 2017.

All Ring cycle subscribers will receive a Festival packet with details about all Ring Festival activities, lectures and events. Additionally, San Francisco Opera will partner with hotels and an airline to accommodate out-of-town subscribers, as well as Bay Area patrons looking to get away and immerse themselves in the Ring Festival. Complete details about the Ring Festival experience will be announced in spring 2017. For more information, visit

San Francisco Opera has created a Ring Circle for patrons who wish to make a special contribution to this production. Ring Circle memberships begin with donations of $5,000 or more and members enjoy benefits leading up to and during the Ring. For additional information, please contact Cathy Lewis at (415) 551-6239 or

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue. Patrons are encouraged to use public transportation to attend San Francisco Opera performances. The War Memorial Opera House is within walking distance of the Civic Center BART station and near numerous bus lines, including 5, 21, 47, 49 and the F Market Street. For more public transportation information, visit and

Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about San Francisco Opera’s 2018 Ring Festival and production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, please visit

For the complete press release including calendar, critical praise and artist bios, please view the attached PDF.