One of the biggest productions in all the performing arts, Richard Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle, will be staged in Bendigo by the critically and popularly acclaimed Melbourne Opera.
The $5 million production will employ over 250 Australian singers, musicians, creatives and technicians. Exclusively staged in the regional Australian destination, the production is expected to drive major tourism to the region with three full Ring Cycles performed over six weeks from 24 March until 1 May 2023 at the Ulumbarra Theatre. The production also marks Bendigo’s inaugural annual Easter opera festival, presented by Melbourne Opera.
“This is a historic moment for our company, not to mention our country’s opera industry. Our production is only the third ever Australian generated production of Wagner’s Ring, not to mention the first full staging of The Ring in regional Australia,” says company director Greg Hocking.
Each Ring Cycle will be performed over two weekends, from Friday-Sunday, encouraging longer stays in the booming Bendigo region, which has hosted a number of international arts and culture exhibitions and events in recent years.
Wagner’s Ring is lauded as the inspiration behind many great themes, stories and soundtracks across the ages. With a plot that many say inspired The Lord of the Rings, the score includes many iconic moments with famous operatic and orchestral highlights such as Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral March, Wotan’s Farewell and Ride of the Valkyries, used to great effect in many films, perhaps most memorably in Apocalypse Now.
“We couldn’t be more proud to be staging The Ring Cycle in full. We are very grateful to our generous sponsors for making this possible,” says Melbourne Opera’s Founding Patron Lady Primrose Potter, one of the country’s leading arts philanthropists.
Melbourne Opera has already begun a critically acclaimed staging of the operas in the Ring Cycle with the first opera Das Rheingold performed in February 2021, while Die Walküre is currently on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 16 February followed by a performance at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre on 27 February, when the full staging of the historic Ring Cycle will be officially launched to the Bendigo region.
Distinguished international Wagner specialist maestro Anthony Negus will return once again to Australia to conduct the production, after highly successful productions of Die Walküre with the English National Opera at London’s famed Colosseum, and at his famous Longborough Festival Opera.
“Melbourne Opera is one of my most favourite companies in the world to work with. I am overjoyed to be continuing our Wagner journey with this huge production of the entire Ring cycle. It is such a wonderful opportunity for the whole company,” says leading Wagnerian maestro Anthony Negus.
Melbourne Opera’s production features an all-Australian cast led by internationally acclaimed singers and helmed by creatively gifted Wagner director, Suzanne Chaundy, who is excited to culminate her staggered staging of Wagner’s epic Ring with a season of three full cycles.
“This is a dream come true and something that was on my directorial bucket list. It’s a huge creative and logistical challenge which I am ready to tackle head on,” says Suzanne.
“We are delighted to have assembled a magnificent all Australian cast for this exciting project. The cast is led by Warwick Fyfe’s acclaimed Wotan, and features Bradley Daley, Simon Meadows, Lee Abrahmsen, Rosamund Illing, Sarah Sweeting, Steven Gallop and Adrian Tamburini,” says Greg Hocking.
“We cannot wait to make full use of the superb acoustics and simply outstanding technical resources at the wonderful Ulumbarra Theatre.”
Melbourne Opera will stage Siegfried, the third opera in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, in concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre, on 25 September at 3pm, before beginning its significant preparations for the full staging of all four Ring operas in Bendigo just six months later.
The Ring Cycle includes four epic operas totalling 17 hours of performance time, and is known to be the greatest challenge for any opera company, as the most impressive and opulent event in the history of the artform.
Continuing its reputation as Victoria’s busiest professional opera company throughout these trying times, Melbourne Opera has further significant plans for 2022.
The very popular Mozart by Moonlight returns to the Royal Botanic Gardens on 20 February.
The company is set to stage The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny from 1 May with IOpera, the first time a mainstage production of the political satire has been produced in Australia in over 40 years. A Bel Canto Spectacular will be performed on Mother’s Day (8 May), in honour of Founding Patron Lady Primrose Potter’s 91st Birthday.
The company will then stage a full production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia in August, last seen performed in Australia by Dame Joan Sutherland, while a perambulatory production of The Marriage of Figaro will be performed at The Australian Club, making use of all the beautiful Victorian rooms.
Source: Melbourne Opera
Featured Image: Melbourne Opera’s Das Rheingold (2021), the first opera in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Image by Robin Halls