Opera fanatics liked it, so they put a ring on it. But this is no single opera. Wagner’s four-opera extravaganza, collectively called the Ring Cycle, is an experience like no other – for opera patrons and performers alike. Though many have heard strains of Die Walkure’s “Ride of the Valkyries” in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, only true devotees can claim the title of “Ring nuts” after having repeatedly experienced all sixteen hours of the Cycle. On Sept. 11-14, Chicago opera fans can view the Metropolitan Opera’s 2011 production of this challenging work from their own couches as it airs on WTTW-11.
The Met’s production features more than a star-studded cast. Bryn Terfel and Chicagoland native Deborah Voigt, singing her first Brunnhilde, costar with a $16 million production designed by the controversial Robert Lepage. Lepage’s claim to fame is his innovative use of technology – and this Ring is no exception. His set design include computer projections and approximately 45 tons of rotating planks, which required the Met to reinforce its stage with steel.
Along with the Ring, WTTW-11 will air Wagner’s Dream, a documentary on the making of this production, on Sept. 10. Susan Froemke directed this documentary, following her successful film The Audition (2010) which offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the Met’s National Council Auditions. The documentary explores the diverse challenges of mounting the production – ranging from fiscal and mechanical to musical and emotional.
Don’t miss Wagner’s Dream and The Ring Cycle on PBS this month.
In the meantime, check out www.wagnersdream.com for the documentary’s trailer and ringcycle.metoperafamily.org for synopses of the four operas, descriptions of characters, explanations of leitmotifs, and more!