Holly H. Gilson
Senior Director, Communications
The Olympics of Opera — THE RING CYCLE
April 13 - May 3, 2020
CHICAGO (2/17/20) – A four-opera saga that unfolds over the course of a single week. Three weeklong cycles to be presented at Lyric in a thrilling new production that has earned rave reviews and attracted audience members from every corner of the planet. One magical lump of gold that leads to the end of one world and the beginning of another. In opera's most monumental undertaking, characters inspired by Norse mythology battle over power and love, violate sacred oaths, and make unimaginable sacrifices – all set to Richard Wagner's brilliant, glorious music. The word "epic" is often overused, but it truly applies to the Olympian achievement that is The Ring of the Nibelung.
The lovely Rhinemaidens guard magical gold that can be transformed into a ring that grants its owner unlimited power – but only if the possessor renounces love. Scorned by the Rhinemaidens, Alberich steals the gold, forces his brother Mime to create the all-powerful ring and Tarnhelm (a helmet that can transform the wearer), and enslaves his fellow Nibelungs, but his triumph is short-lived. Wotan, king of the gods, robs Alberich, triggering a series of deceits and power struggles among gods, giants, and mortals. Performances Apr. 13, 20, 27
This riveting, devastating drama reveals complex relationships between brother and sister, husband and wife, father and daughter. Siegmund and Sieglinde, Wotan's mortal offspring, were separated at birth; now reunited by fate, they fall in love and run away together, triggering a cascade of catastrophes. Wotan's wife, Fricka, the goddess of marital fidelity, insists that Hunding, Sieglinde's brutish husband, be avenged. Wotan charges his Valkyrie daughter Brünnhilde to protect Hunding in a duel with Siegmund; she disobeys and throws everything into chaos. The pregnant Sieglinde escapes, and Wotan puts his favorite daughter to sleep on a rock surrounded by magic fire impenetrable except by a hero who knows no fear. Performances Apr. 14, 21, 29
Young Siegfried, the orphaned son of Siegmund and Sieglinde, has been reared in isolation by Alberich's devious brother Mime. Restless and yearning for adventure, Siegfried repairs his father's shattered sword, Nothung, and vanquishes the dragon Fafner, claiming the ring of power, the transformative helmet, and the golden treasure. A forest bird leads him to the sleeping Brünnhilde; he braves the magic fire, awakens the Valkyrie, and discovers love. Performances: Apr. 16, 23, May 1
Siegfried and Brünnhilde's rapturous union is soon torn asunder by external forces of greed, deception, and betrayal. Hagen, Alberich's son, plots to steal the ring, using a powerful potion to make Siegfried forsake and forget his beloved. Brünnhilde experiences horrific betrayal, desperate revenge, and finally profound understanding and acceptance. Her emotional journey concludes in the overwhelming Immolation Scene. Wagner brings the saga full circle as the Rhinemaidens reclaim their magical gold and the world begins anew. Performances: Apr. 18, 25, May 3
Know Before You Go
North America's first new Ring cycle since 2012, and Lyric's first Ring since 2005.
Valhalla on the Chicago River: The Lyric Opera House is the place for the world's Ringheads to convene this spring, with ticket holders confirmed from all 50 states and 28 countries to date.
Brilliant interpreters immersed in a massive multi-performance marathon of Olympic proportion: It takes terrific stamina and artistry, not to mention sheer vocal power and incredible acting, to make the Ring magnificent and truly memorable. Lyric's new production stars A-list Wagnerians and operatic superstars Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, Burkhard Fritz as Siegfried, Eric Owens as Wotan and the Wanderer, Samuel Youn as Alberich, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Fricka and Waltraute, Elisabet Strid (4/14, 21) and Laura Wilde (4/29) as Sieglinde, Brandon Jovanovich as Froh/Siegmund, Stephen Milling as Hunding/Hagen, Ronnita Miller as Erda/First Norn, Stefan Margita (4/13, 20) and Robert Brubaker (4/27) as Loge, Matthias Klink as Mime, Soloman Howard as Fafner, Henning von Schulman as Fasolt, and many more.
Supersized orchestral forces: Wagner created specialty low-brass horns for the Ring and scored the tetralogy for 90+ instruments. Lyric's music director Sir Andrew Davis leads the expanded Lyric Opera Orchestra, with 92 (!) singers of the Lyric Opera Chorus prepared by chorus master Michael Black for Götterdämmerung. (The regular orchestra comprises 70 instrumentalists and the regular chorus comprises 46 singers.)
Inviting and imaginative production that returns the storytelling to its theatrical roots: Lyric's exciting new production is created by Sir David Pountney, with original set designs by the late Johan Engels overseen by Robert Innes Hopkins, costumes designed by Marie-Jeanne Lecca, lighting by Fabrice Kebour, and choreography by Denni Sayers.
Live-performance binge-watching: Over 15 action-packed hours of opera in four performances spanning a week, as Wagner intended.
Enhance your Ring cycle with Ring Festival Programming events and activities such as tours, talks, tastings, panels, dinners, and chamber concerts.
Need a little comic relief? We've got you covered: Lyric will present ten cabaret-style performances backstage of Longer! Louder! Wagner! The Second City Wagner Companion, a collaboration between Lyric and The Second City that spoofs and celebrates everyone's favorite four-day, fifteen hour opera experience. (Warning: Longer! Louder! Wagner! may contain inaccurate German accents.)
Bonus invitation from Wagner himself! Okay, not really, but Jesse Case, the brilliant music director from The Second City who portrays the composer in Longer! Louder! Wagner!, invites you to check out Die Walküre — and the whole Ring cycle — in this irresistible video.
Pop-culture inspiration: Wagner adapted Norse mythology and the 12th-century Germanic poem "Niebelunglied" in creating his Ring cycle, which in turn inspired Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Game of Thrones, Xena: Warrior Princess, Valkyrie-based characters in several Marvel Comics series including Thor, The Avengers, and more.
A score of mythical proportions: The Ring cycle is said to be the longest successful musical work ever written, and is certainly the most famous.
Play name-that-tune bingo: Wagner wrote signature melodies, a.k.a. leitmotifs, for each of his characters, and even for curses and natural disasters. Listen for these recurring musical themes throughout the Ring.
If you've seen Apocalypse Now, What's Opera, Doc?, Excalibur, Birth, or The New World: You've heard some of the most famous music from the Ring. Click on "The Ride of the Valkyries" here and pump up the volume.
Read it before you see it: There are two contemporary graphic-novel versions of the full Ring cycle: Gil Kane's 1997 version and P. Craig Russell's two-volume 2002 version. There's also Arthur Rackham's 1911-12 Ring illustrations, compiled into a single volume in 2009.
Three full cycles — performance times vary:
Cycle 1: April 13, 14, 16, 18
Cycle 2: April 20, 21, 23, 25
Cycle 3 (mat.): April 27, 29, May 1, 3
Sung in German with English translations projected above the stage.
For more information and to order cycle tickets, visit RING 2020 or call 312-827-5600.
For information about pre-performance dining options at Lyric, visit lyricopera.org/dining to learn about on-site restaurants, pop-up sushi bar, beverage service, and more.
Lyric Opera of Chicago is proud to celebrate Chicago's Year of Music and encourages RING ticket holders to explore all of the musical and cultural riches the city has to offer during their RING stay.
From: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing & Communications