Der Ring des Nibelungen by Stuttgart State Opera
From February 22 to 25, Stingray Brava will broadcast Richard Wagner’s unforgettable grand operas Der Ring des Nibelungen. Conducted by Lothar Zagrosek, all four operas were recorded at the Stuttgart Opera in 2002 and 2003.
Last September, Stingray Brava received lots of positive feedback regarding the broadcast of Die Ring des Nibelungen. That was reason enough to reprogram the cycle in February!
Richard Wagner is perhaps the greatest 19th-century innovator within the opera genre. The composer was striving to create a so-called “Gesamtkunstwerk”, in which theatre, music, and words would be united into a new art form.
Der Ring des Nibelungen was composed between 1853 and 1874 and consists of four operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. The works are based loosely on characters from the epic The Song of the Nibelungs and the Norse sagas.
Remarkably and unusually, Wagner provided the libretto for all his operas! In The Ring Cycle, he also perfected the use of the leitmotif (a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a person, idea, or situation), through unconventional harmonies and extensive orchestrations.
In the 1990s, Klaus Zehelein, director of the Stuttgart State Opera, had the revolutionary idea to divide The Ring Cycle in four separate parts, where each part would be directed by a different director and performed by a different cast. Zehelein had one big aesthetic advantage in mind; every part would get the full attention that a Wagner opera deserves.
Four operas, four directors, four unique styles
The fact that this 15-hour rendition was performed by four different casts was controversial at the time. However, the orchestra, conductor, storyline, and musical structures are the common denominator between each opera, which are artistically interwoven by the composer.
Interesting fact: the Gods in Das Rheingold look like business gangsters from the 1920s and Siegfried is comically set in the 1960s. The decors are provided with post-industrial characteristics, like a prison camp with wired fences. A big asset in the rendition by the Stuttgart State Opera is the rich movements and mise-en-scène on stage, which prevents the static singing of an opera aria.
3 Brünnhilde, 3 Wotan, and 2 Siegfried!
To keep things fresh, characters in the operas are played by different singers. What a perfect opportunity to compare singers! Who was your favourite Wotan, Siegfried or Brünnhilde?
In 1876, Der Ring des Nibelungen premiered at the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Germany. Today, it is performed annually at the Bayreuth Festival.
If you’re a lover of classical music, you can now enjoy this magnificent work, from February 22 to 25 on Stingray Brava!