Opera Australia has today named the cast for its new, digital Ring Cycle, which opens at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPSC) in October.

The production, directed and designed by Chen Shi-Zheng, was scheduled to open in 2020, but had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, there are several changes to the cast including the major roles of Brünnhilde and Wotan, due to the unavailability of some of the original singers.

American soprano Lise Lindstrom will play the iconic role of Brünnhilde in the first two cycles. Australian soprano Anna Louise Cole will then step into the role. Cole was originally cast as Sieglinde (and the Brünnhilde cover). She will play Sieglinde in the first two cycles then make her role debut as Brünnhilde in the third – a huge break for the exceptionally talented young singer.

Cole is an alumna of OA’s Young Artist program and in 2019 was one of the 30 young Australian classical musicians selected by Limelight as stars of tomorrow in its Gen Next feature.

Lindstrom gave a magnificent performance when she played Brünnhilde in OA’s 2016 Ring Cycle in Melbourne, directed by Neil Armfield and conducted by Pietari Inkinen. In his Limelight review of Götterdämmerung, Clive Paget praised the cast, saying: “Top of the bill is American soprano Lise Lindstrom who has grown steadily throughout this cycle and now confirms herself as one of the finest Brünnhildes on current world stages. This is her first complete Ring Cycle, and although she will doubtless deepen her interpretation over coming years, this is already a powerful and moving performance.”

Limelight spoke to Lindstrom about Brünnhilde in 2016, and also to German tenor Stefan Vinke who will play Siegfried, as originally cast – a role for which he is internationally acclaimed and which he played for OA in 2013 and 2016.

Australian bass Daniel Sumegi, who played Fasolt and Hagen in Armfield’s OA Ring Cycle in both 2013 and 2016, will step into the challenging role of Wotan. Sumegi, who plays Bluebeard in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle for OA in March, will be making his debut as Wotan, a role he understudied for Los Angeles Opera a decade ago.

Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli will play Fafner, Hunding and Hagen, German tenor Andreas Conrad will play Mime, and Australian soprano Olivia Cranwell will reprise the roles of Ortlinde and Third Norn before making her role debut as Sieglinde in the third cycle.

Taking the cast through their paces, along with the Queensland Symphony Ring Cycle Orchestra, will be French conductor Philippe Auguin, who has conducted 13 complete Ring Cycles and is renowned for his Wagner performances around the world.

Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said he was thrilled to be presenting such an exciting cast.

“Not only do we have some of the best Ring Cycle singers from around the world, this is a fantastic opportunity for our Australian singers to step into these difficult roles, and I’m particularly excited at the prospect of presenting the first home-grown pairing in the lead roles Wotan and Brünnhilde,” he said.

Opera Australia’s new Ring Cycle plays at QPAC, 29 October – 20 November

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