Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ring Ring

I was planning to see two Rings this year, one of which would be one of four reruns of the London Ring next September-October. Since I always prefer a creation (or at least the productions I didn't see before) my main target was actually the Munich Ring.

Reasons (besides the obvious one -- new production)?
I liked the previous work of the director [Andreas Kriegenburg], the cast is great --similar to the one we saw recently performing in Paris, except that the whole thing most probably sounds better at the Bayerische Staatsoper because of its exceptionally good acoustics-- and  finally, because Kent Nagano handles Wagner operas in a peculiar & passionate way; his conducting is accurate and 'modern'...

From Die Walküre recently premiered at the BSO in Munich (Andreas Kriegenburg production)

And so, a year ago, when the program for the Festspiele 2012 was announced, I promptly sent out my application for the tickets hoping to benefit from their usual "first came, first served" rule... Alas, today I received a "sorry mail" and so no Munich this year!

My first spontaneous reaction obviously involved a few expletives, but on the second thought there is no need to be spoiled. This may even be a blessing in disguise. Other places in Germany propose full Ring cycles too.  Time to discover places, creative works of others... So what are the options? Frankfurt, Essen, Hannover, Freiburg and even Mannheim! See below the list with links to all operas.

Oper Frankfurt completed their Ring this year and they propose two cycles next June (2012). It is directed by Vera Nemirova; Sebastian Weigle will conduct and the cast is brilliant too. The dates for the second cycle are:

June 22: Das Rheingold; June 24: Die Walküre; June 28: Siegfried; July 1st: Götterdämmerung
The Frankfurt Ring directed by Vera Nemirova (a scene from Götterdämmerung)

Aalto Musiktheater in Essen will present their recently completed full Ring, conducted by Stefan Soltesz and produced by various directors:
June 26: Das Rheingold [dir- Tilman Knabe]; June 28: Die Walküre [dir- Dietrich Hilsdorf]; June 30: Siegfried [dir- Anselm Weber]; July 1st: Götterdämmerung [dir- Barrie Kosky]
A scene from Siegfried -- the Aalto Ring in Essen

Staatsoper Hannover also completed their Ring and will present the full cycle this June. Directed by Barrie Kosky and conducted by Karen Kamensek:
June 14: Das Rheingold; June 17: Die Walküre; June 21: Siegfried; June 24: Götterdämmerung
The Ride of the Valkyries as seen by Barrie Kosky in Hannover

Theater Freiburg will rerun their acclaimed Freiburg Ring next May. Directed by Frank Hilbrich and with Fabrice Bollon conducting, the dates are:
May 25: Das Rheingold; May 26: Die Walküre; May 28: Siegfried; May 30: Götterdämmerung
A scene from the Freiburg Ring

Nationaltheater in Mannheim goes on with the Achim Freyer Ring that fascinated the West Coast Wagnerites. Dan Ettinger will conduct and the dates for the first two operas are (the other two will follow later this year):
June 2: Das Rheingold; June 24: Die Walküre
Achim Freyer Ring in Mannheim


  1. Oh dear! Weh mir! I have been expecting an answer from Munich for nearly 7 weeks and it looks as if it is going to be a rejection today as well.
    I'm going to try again for January 2013 and next year's festival ( I much prefer Munich in the summer though). Perhaps I will be luckier then and maybe they should follow Bayreuth's idea to put you nearer the head of the queue for each application.

    I understand the Frankfurt Ring sold out immediately booking opened.

  2. Hey John!

    I'll try either Essen or Hannover. Essen was elected the best Opera-house in Europe several years ago. I saw there Don Giovanni by Herheim which was my first big Herheim experience and I still believe it is one of the best DG's in business. The eclectic Ring in Essen could be an experience.

    OTOH, I've never been to Hannover & the Barrie Kosky Ring must be special, so...

    Vera Nemirova is cool --> the Frankfurt Ring must be very good too, but I guess the Hannover/Essen shows are more intellectually stimulating.

    As for Munich... I guess I won't apply for their tickets anymore. I always end up buying the tickets from scalpers or from someone on the BSO forum, so why bother booking at the box-office?! The answer seems to be a priori no by definition.

    When are you going to Lyon?

  3. I'm off to Lyon tomorrow for the Wagner Concert and then Parsifal on Saturday.

    Honestly even for a Ring I would not want to spend a week in Essen. I understand that the Valencia Ring will be produced at the new Florence opera house next Spring and the idea of a week there is much more atractive.

  4. Ha! ;)

    But you can go elsewhere in the area - Cologne, Hannover,... with their good theaters too. But of course this is not Berlin, and especially not Florence to spend a full week.

    I bring my work with me, so I'm cool everywhere.

  5. I also received a “sorry mail”. I sent my application in last September so I wrote a “protest mail” to the Staatsoper. Their reply promptly arrived on the same day:

    “the orders are processed by drawing lots, not by the date of entry. We had more than 20.000 orders for the Opera Festival, a great amount of them for the Ring. This is why we could not fulfil all wishes.”

    I am going to see the Paris Ring, partially thanks to your positive opinion. I obtained a second row seat on Parterre to be able to listen to the rich orchestral details. Do you think it was a wise choice? How is the acoustics of the Opera Bastille?

  6. Heya :-) I think you are all under the very false and maybe a bit past times impression that the best Rings come out of Germany. My thoughts on that would be so not! Ok, i have not listened to that much Wagner over many years BUT the best overall Wagner experiences i have had in terms of balance of performance and overall level of excellence have been at the Royal Opera House, by far, by very far indeed. Looking at next year I'd probably rather go as an alternative to Scala and Barenboim and there are some impressive Ring lineups this year in Berlin for that matter. Yes Munich has good casts, but I don’t know under which scale that house is called to have good acoustics :-) Yes, in some places it is decent acoustics, but overall.. Pft! I much prefer the Bastille in terms of balance and clarity over Munich. Not to mention that in Munich the combination of ticket price and what you see and hear for it is very much a gamble. Plus their absolutely appalling sale system, which transforms audience into beggars, no thanks.
    I've heard way more exciting Wagner in the UK from the likes of Pappano, Bychkov, Nelsons, Esa Peka Salonen and with the level of orchestras Munich doesn’t even come close to honestly. And even with their recently improved chorus still not even close. I find in Wagner a few stars don't do it, it's the overall level that counts.
    Now Bayreuth is another matter, but they can't pull in the singers.
    The Met orchestra is up to that level, but they lack an exciting conductor at present.. And you have to deal with ze machine :-p And they are generously giving theirs away on the radio :-))
    Bottom line, I think for my Wagner I'll just stay in London thank you very much :-) Best acoustics I have experienced in an opera house and for the kind of price nobody else will be able to give it to me, 270 for 1 Ring with Pappano, that is what I call being spoiled :-)