Many arts companies are easing their way back into live performance, choosing to stage small-scale productions at the start of 2021 as they negotiate restrictions around COVID-19.
Instead, Melbourne Opera has announced that it will tackle one of the pinnacles of the operatic repertoire, Wagner’s epic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungen) – a work of such extraordinary scale that it is often dubbed the Everest of opera.
Eddie Muliaumaseli’i will play Wotan in Melbourne Opera’s Das Rheingold
The Ring Cycle will begin in February 2021 with Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), staged at the recently renovated Regent Theatre. The Cycle will culminate in 2023 with Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), when the company will also perform all four operas back to back in one complete Cycle.
Melbourne Opera is an independent company, which relies on ticket sales and sponsors including its founding patron Lady Primrose Potter. The MO Ring Cycle will be the first independent production of the Ring in Australia since 1913. It follows a number of Wagner operas staged by MO in recent years including Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, and The Flying Dutchman, which have been largely very well received.
Melbourne Opera originally scheduled Das Rheingold for production in August 2020 but the season had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new production will be directed by Suzanne Chaundy and designed by Andrew Bailey, who designed MO’s Flying Dutchman. Anthony Negus, a Wagnerian maestro who conducted MO’s productions of Tristan and Isolde (for which he won the 2018 Green Room Conducting Award) and The Flying Dutchman, will lead from the podium, sharing the conducting with David Kram, who is currently in Wales.
Das Rheingold will feature an all-Australian cast. Warwick Fyfe (who will play Alberich in Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle in Brisbane in November 2021) will play Wotan, alternating with Eddie Muliaumaseali’i. Sarah Sweeting will play Fricka. Other singers in the cast include Simon Meadows, James Egglestone, Michael Lapina, Lee Abrahmsen, Roxane Hislop and Steven Gallop.
Melbourne Opera hopes that by February it will be able to seat at least 1000 patrons in the Regent Theatre.