The Melbourne Ring ticket hunt begins

Opera Australia is about to release tickets to its 2013 Ring Cycle. But who stole the Rhinegold?

Tickets for Melbourne’s first-ever production  of Wagner’s epic tetralogy Der Ring Des Nibelungen will be released to the public on July 23, after first being offered exclusively to Opera Australia donors and subscribers, dubbed “Ring Leaders” by the company.

The gargantuan production is planned to premiere at the State Theatre in November 2013. Premium Reserve seats will set you back $2,000 for the four performances and C Reserve passes are still pricey at $1,000, which works out at $250 per opera. Separate tickets to the individual operas are not available.

The prices for the top spots at Melbourne are comparable to the US$2,650 needed for a premium seat at the New York Met’s next Ring, slated for April 2013, but the Met’s cheap seats (US$300 for the cycle) offer a more realistic option for less affluent Wagnerphiles.

So, why the high prices for seats? It is likely the result of recommendations published in a 2009 L.E.K. Consulting review regarding ticket prices and programming. The review advised OA
to increase prices for traditional opera and reduce prices for productions aimed at the wider public, such as this month’s Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific

Although Opera Australia has declined to comment on the cost of the production, it is purported to be in the vacinity of $15 million. Announced by Opera Australia in August 2010, the Melbourne cycle will coincide with the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth. The massive undertaking will employ 350 singers, dancers, designers, costume-makers, backstage staff and technicians and will clock up 600 hours of rehearsals. It is estimated that the set will take a total of 14 months to complete.

In an interview with BRW magazine, Opera Australia CEO Adrian Collette called it the “cultural Olympiad of opera... Cities become famous for doing the Ring cycle so it’s a big statement for Melbourne.”

Opera Australia has assembled a creative team of primarily local talent, headed by stalwart OA director Neil Armfield and conductor Richard Mills, who will join forces with stage designer Robert Cousins, Alice Babidge (costumes) and lighting designer Damien Cooper.

The international cast will include British dramatic soprano Susan Bullock as Brünnhilde, American Heldentenor Gary Lehman (pictured) as Siegfried, Finnish baritone Juha Uusitalo as Wotan and German-born Australian John Wegner as Alberich.

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The Melbourne Ring ticket hunt begins
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