Ringheads rejoice! Today in a live-streamed press conference Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis announced that the company will mount an all-new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen beginning in the 2016/17 season.

RING press conference

Ringheads rejoice! Today in a live-streamed press conference, Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis announced that the company will mount an all-new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, led by conductor Sir Andrew Davis and director David Pountney and starring Lyric favorites Christine Goerke and Eric Owens. Rounding out the creative team are set designer Johan Engels, costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, and lighting designer Fabrice Kebour.

Goerke and Owens play Brünnhilde and Wotan, the legendary father-daughter duo whose fraught relationship provides the four-opera cycle with its powerful emotional center.

Along with the entire creative team, Goerke was present at the press conference. Last seen at Lyric absolutely owning Strauss's Elektra in her company debut, Goerke is thrilled to return in such a high-profile role: "I'm beyond excited to do it. Aside from the fact that there's such a familial feeling at Lyric, it's the sight of that house, the space of that house - it's so grand, it suits the music so well, and it suits the scenes so well."   

Goerke shared that her first experience with Wagner was singing the Third Norn, but she always dreamed of being Brünnhilde: "I would stand on the side of the stage and watch the Prologue of Götterdämmerung and think, 'Oh, if some day just once I could do this.' Some day has arrived, which is remarkable."

This Ring cycle marks the first time that Eric Owens will sing Wotan, the king of all the gods. Though Owens has been offered the role of Wotan several times, he was finally tempted to accept Lyric's offer because of the ideal circumstances: "To do one opera per season and then to do the full cycle was the perfect fit, and in a company where I've performed so many times with people I adore, and with the whole atmosphere of the company being so nurturing. When you're stepping out into the unknown and exploring a role that is so iconic, I think this is just a perfect situation."

Owens, who joined the conference live via Skype, also joked that the toughest part of playing Wotan is "keeping straight the names of all the children!"

Freud and Davis also revealed that Pountney will bring his acclaimed production of the newly rediscovered The Passenger  by Mieczysław Weinberg to Lyric in the 2014/15 season. Written in 1967-68 but not fully staged until 2010, The Passenger tells the haunting and deeply powerful story of a chance encounter of a Holocaust survivor and her Nazi overseer. Weinberg was a Holocaust survivor and contemporary of Shostakovich, who lavishly praised Weinberg's work-which was frequently suppressed by the Soviet regime.

This production, first seen at the Bregenz Festival in 2010, shares the same core creative team (Pountney, Engles, Lecca, and Kebour) as Lyric's new Ring cycle. Full casting for The Passenger will be announced on January 27, along with the rest of Lyric's 2014-15 60th anniversary season. Come back to Lyric Lately for more details on that date!

The full schedule of Ring performances is:

Das Rheingold
Performances begin October 1, 2016

Die Walküre
Performances begin in early November 2017

Performances begin in early November 2018

Performances begin in late March 2020

Three complete Ring cycles
First cycle begins in April 2020

For those who are truly planning ahead, Das Rheingold goes on sale with the rest of the 2016-17 season in early 2016, and the full Ring cycle will be on sale in 2018. Mark your calendars NOW!

Photo credit: Jaclyn Simpson for Lyric Opera of Chicago.