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Commentary

Image by  Lyric Opera of Chicago
24 Jun 2019

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycle

Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced both schedules and cast-lists for is Spring 2020 performances of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Given the series of individual productions already staged by the company since Fall 2016, that pave the way for the complete cycle, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s complete production should affirm the artistic might of the great composer.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycle

By Salvatore Calomino

Above image courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

By the start of next spring’s cycles, the team of singers, musicians, and production staff will have worked together for an extensive period of four seasons, sufficient time to yield a collaborative effort of exciting potential. The Lyric Opera Orchestra will be led throughout by Its music director, Sir Andrew Davis, whose commitment to the works of Wagner has contributed markedly to the reception of the first three operas to date.

While the individual operas of the cycle have generated enthusiasm based on their specific artistic merits in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s recent productions, the opportunity to experience the totality of the Ring as a unified, continuous series will offer a rare event of collaborative forces. In Das Rheingold, the first opera or essentially the prologue to the following three operas, both devices and personalities forge a path into the forthcoming stories of love, power, and loyalties. The structural use of elevation, both mobile and stationary, has a binding effect that distinguishes specific scenes yet prompts the viewer to appreciate thematic and musical ties existing with the following operas. The Rhinemaidens hover aloft on mechanical lifts raised and lowered or propelled by supernumeraries as the maidens sing of the sun and gold. Their gracefully produced music undulates with the mechanized flow of the crane-like lifts. In subsequent scenes the giants emit their menacing bluster from atop moving towers. such a placement effectively emphasizing their power and size. Comparable yet stationary towering structures flank the stage in the following opera, Die Walküre, here used to indicate an oppositional relationship between the warriors Siegmund and Hunding. Once the identity of Siegmund becomes apparent in the first act, each warrior appears seated at the base of one of the opposing towers, each of these figures staring forward grimly in anticipation of future conflict. This battle takes place at the conclusion of the following act with either warrior positioned midway upon the respective, elevated structure, the gods and their kin intervening in the remaining space. In Siegfried the locale of the smithy in the forest is fashioned appropriately with flat lines, yet the development of the protagonist must transcend the realm of Mime and Alberich. In response to the elevated, coaxing calls of the Forest Bird, sung in last season’s new production with thrush-like intonations by Diana Newman, Siegfried, as performed by the impressive Burkhard Fritz, indeed follows an upward path until he reaches the sleeping Brunnhilde. Their joyous scene of burgeoning emotions is then celebrated on this raised portion of the stage. It will be exciting to trace further structural parallels in next season’s new production of Götterdämmerung and to anticipate comparable insights in the complete Ring cycles beginning in April 2020.

 

Lyric Opera of Chicago has assembled a superlative cast for this project, a team of singing performers associated both nationally and internationally with their respective roles. Perhaps most striking thus far has been the depth of character that the singers bring to their roles. Christine Goerke’s definitive Brunnhilde captures the excited involvement of a battle-maiden when assisting Siegmund, the wounded penitence of a disobedient daughter in her in her extended dialogues with Wotan, and the boundless promise of romantic love when awakened by the hero Siegfried. Likewise, the Wotan of Eric Owens moves from his adventurous complicity in Das Rheingold to the part of defensive mate and angry parent in Die Walküre, before taking an integral hand in Siegfried’s development in the following opera. Also returning in the complete cycle is the incomparable Stefan Margita, whose Loge in Das Rheingold propels the action and prepares the stage for subsequent confrontations in the following operas of the cycle. Tanya Ariane Baumgartner reprises her imperious Fricka in an elegantly idiomatic interpretation. Elisabeth Strid and Brandon Jovanovich create an unforgettably lyrical pair of siblings. Mathias Klink makes a tour de force of acting and singing as Mime, and Ronita Miller will perform her deeply felt and pivotal depiction of Erda.

Performances of the complete Ring cycle will take place in successive weeks with following schedule:

Cycle 1
Das Rheingold, Monday 4/13/20, 7:30 p.m.
Die Walküre, Tuesday, 4/14/20, 6:00 p.m.
Siegfried, Thursday, 4/16/20, 6:00 p.m.
Götterdämmerung, Saturday, 4/18/20, 5:30 p.m.

Cycle 2
Das Rheingold, Monday 4/20/20, 7:30 p.m.
Die Walküre, Tuesday, 4/21/20, 6:00 p.m.
Siegfried, Thursday, 4/23/20, 6:00 p.m.
Götterdämmerung, Saturday, 4/25/20, 5:30 p.m.

Cycle 3
Das Rheingold, Monday 4/27/20, 2:00 p.m.
Die Walküre, Wednesday, 4/29/20, 2:00 p.m.
Siegfried, Friday, 5/1/20, 2:00 p.m.
Götterdämmerung, Sunday, 5/3/20, 2:30 p.m.

Click here for additional information.

Click here for the text of Richard Wagner’s The Nibelungen-Myth. As Sketch for a Drama.

Salvatore Calomino

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