Published 8 November 2018
For the first time, Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle is coming to Gothenburg. Four productions over four years, with the premiere of Das Rheingold on Saturday 17 November.
Here are four reasons why this is big news:
Four-year trial of strength towards Götterdämmerung
The tetralogy Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung has influenced the whole of musical history and our perception of dramatic art. The musical narrative spans three generations and four operas, with a total running time of more than 15 hours. Over the next four seasons, the Göteborg Opera will perform Gothenburg’s first ever Ring Cycle. One part each year, with the final scheduled for 2021. The director is the Göteborg Opera’s own Artistic Director for Opera/Drama, Stephen Langridge, who as of summer 2019 will be the new Artistic Director of the prestigious British opera house Glyndebourne, but who will be returning to Gothenburg to direct the remaining parts. Award-winning English stage designer Alison Chitty is responsible for the set design and costumes.
Anders Lorentzson will be taking on the role of the King of the Gods Wotan, while his wife Fricka will be played by Katarina Karnéus – this summer she was appointed Court Singer and she was also recently the recipient of the prestigious Opera Award 2018 organised by Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Both are members of the Göteborg Opera Ensemble. All four parts of Der Ring des Nibelungen will be conducted by Evan Rogister, who made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in autumn 2017 and who was appointed Musical Director of the Washington State Opera in the autumn.
How green can an opera really be?
The Göteborg Opera is already considered to be an industry forerunner in terms of its environmental work. We’re now using the entire Ring Cycle as a kind of test bed for sustainable performing arts, posing the question: “What is possible?” For Das Rheingold, for example, the opera house’s various departments have made scenery using wood material made from waste wood, “fake flames” (eco-friendly fire), environmentally-friendly makeup made in-house, plant-based dyes for costumes, and that’s just a fraction.
“Staging The Ring is a major artistic challenge that is perfectly suited to an opera house like the Göteborg Opera. It is also entirely appropriate to use this major work to explore how far we can reduce our impact on the environment, which is one of the key issues of our time,” says Stephen Langridge.
As far as he is concerned, the environmental theme is central to the entire work. The prologue Das Rheingold, which marks the beginning of Der Ring des Nibelungen, starts with an assault on nature. The evil Alberich steals the gold from the bottom of the Rhine, which sets off a downward spiral involving murder, abuse of power and environmental destruction.
Award-winning images by Jesper Waldersten:
When the 2018 Swedish Design Prize was recently presented, the Göteborg Opera and artist Jesper Waldersten were awarded Gold for the series of images celebrating Der Ring des Nibelungen. The judges commented: “For an irrepressible flow of visual energy that bursts through the barrier of tradition.”
Jesper Waldersten’s series of images for the Göteborg Opera’s four-year production includes a work of art for each part of the opera cycle and a piece that brings the entire Ring together. Waldersten will be in attendance on the opening night (see below).
Premiere evening 17 November:
• Jesper Waldersten’s original paintings will be on display in the foyer.
• 5.00–5.10 pm in the foyer: Young people’s interpretation of Das Rheingold. Some twenty young people have created a new work on the theme of Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, together with composer John Barber and director Hazel Gould.
• From around 5.10 until 5.25 pm in the foyer: brief talk with Jesper Waldersten about his paintings.
• A mini exhibition on our innovative sustainability work with The Ring and our partners will be on display in the foyer.
• The premiere will be broadcast live on Sveriges Radio.
Photos from the performance/press images will be available at www.opera.se from the afternoon of Monday 12 November.