Return of ‘The Ring’

  • By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
  • Friday, June 17, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

Seattle Opera‘s summer 2013 production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, a four night, 15-hour celebration of German opera is inching closer and closer to the stage.

The much anticipated four-opera marathon will be followed in summer 2014 wit

h a production of Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” an opera not performed in Seattle in more than two decades.

Both Wagner events, which likely will draw audiences from around the world, will serve as fitting celebrations for Seattle Opera’s 50th anniversary and the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Seattle Opera also is celebrating general director Speight Jenkins’ 30 years with the company. He plans to retire Sept. 1, 2014. Jenkins’ replacement hasn’t been selected.

“It was a great day for Seattle when Speight Jenkins came here to lead the opera company in 1983,” said William Weyerhaeuser, the Seattle Opera Board of Trustees’ president. “Speight’s ear for the world’s best voices, his instinct for what makes exciting theater, integrity, diplomacy, his broad base of knowledge and his tireless, contagious passion for the art form have made Seattle Opera one of the great opera companies.”

Wagner’s Ring Cycle is a fitting tribute to Jenkins. Nothing else compares, many opera buffs say. Wagner, and the Ring, have become the essence of the Seattle company.

The four operas that make up the Ring, “Das Rheingold,” “Die Walküre,” “Siegfried,” and “Götterdämmerung,” often are performed individually. They range in length from about two-and-a-half hours to nearly five hours.

It’s a relatively rare treat for opera lovers to see the Ring, all 15 hours, on successive nights, as Wagner intended.

The 2013 production, called the “Green” production, debuted in Seattle in 2001.

It is the third Ring produced in Seattle. The first debuted in 1975 putting Seattle Opera on the map. The second ring premiered in 1986.

Jenkins has tried to keep a schedule of putting on the Ring every four years.

Next summer’s Ring is scheduled to be directed by Stephen Wadsworth, feature sets by Thomas Lynch, costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, and lighting by Peter Kaczorowski.

New to Seattle’s Ring is conductor Asher Fisch. Opus Magazine has called Fisch one of the “finest Ring conductors.” He’s been well received in Seattle’s other recent Wagner productions.

Alwyn Mellor and Stefan Vinke both make their Seattle debut as Brunhilde and Siegfried, respectively. They both are known worldwide for their Ring performances.

This will be the third time Greer Grimsley sings Wotan. Other returning singers include Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, Margaret Jane Wray as Sieglinde, Stuart Skelton as Siegmund, Dennis Petersen as Mime, and Richard Paul Fink as Alberich.

Fisch, the conductor, is planning to return in summer 2014 for “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” It will be the second time Seattle has seen this Wagner opera. It was first performed in 1989.

The 2013 performances of the Ring are scheduled in cycles for August 4, 5, 7 and 9; August 12, 13, 15 and 17; and August 20, 21, 23 and 25.

Tickets go on sale in 2012.

“Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” is scheduled for August 2, 7, 10, 13, 17, 20 and 23, 2014. Tickets for that performance will go on sale in 2013.

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Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447;

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