Wagner's Ring Cycle

Lyric was weeks away from opening Götterdämmerung and three full Ring cycles when the global health crisis forced us to cancel a new production nearly a decade in the making. The sets were built, the costumes ready, the stage effects waiting to dazzle—and our hardworking artists and technical team could not have been more excited about bringing this production to an audience of Ring lovers coming to Chicago from around the world.

As we all look towards a time when the Ring can return to Lyric, we are sharing a wide collection of behind-the-scenes glimpses into this monumental work. Here, you'll find original content that you would have enjoyed in our program book, features and videos related to each individual Ring opera, extended music clips, press coverage, and more.

We are, now and always, deeply grateful to you for making Lyric a part of your life, and hope you enjoy this celebration of Wagner's glorious Ring.

Sir Andrew Davis on the cancellation of Lyric's RING cycle

The Journey to Lyric's RING Cycle

The creative team behind Lyric's Ring cycle reflect on what separated this cycle from all others.

Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" by the (Virtual) Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra

You can't stop the musicians of the Lyric Opera of Chicago from bringing audiences great performances! Enjoy this thrilling virtual performance of Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" as performed from homes and studios around Chicago. With sincerest thanks to the musicians of the Lyric Opera Orchestra for their performances, and percussionist Douglas Waddell for editing expertise.

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Lyric's Ring: An Inside Look at the Week When the Stage Went Dark

The decision to cancel the 2020 Ring cycle, while absolutely necessary to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, our artists, our staff, and our city, was heartbreaking for Lyric.

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Behind the Scenes with the Ring: A Story Told Through Photos

Lyric may not be presenting the Ring cycle this spring, but the preparations, rehearsals, and planning for this cycle deserve to be seen and appreciated.

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What Does It Take to Produce a Ring?

More than 300 artists. More than 8,000 yards of fabric. You'll be amazed by the sheer scale of the entire operation — onstage, backstage, and in the orchestra pit.

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Directing the Ring

One of the world’s most admired and innovative opera directors,
Sir David Pountney, discusses the great challenges of directing the Ring.

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Conducting the Ring

Lyric's music director, Sir Andrew Davis, shares his insights on conducting the Ring cycle.

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Designing the Ring

The Ring designers talk about the sets, costumes, and lighting.

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Choreographing the Ring

How does one differentiate the physical vocabulary of various types of beings in Lyric's Ring?

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Singing and Acting the Ring

Onstage the Ring cycle offers tremendous artistic rewards to its performers. The leading artists of Lyric’s Ring discuss the challenges of their roles.

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Wigs and Makeup in the Ring

The Ring's major challenge for Wigmaster and Makeup Designer Sarah Hatten is the prosthetics for the giants.

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Philosophy and the Ring

Two philosophers popular in his time clearly guided Wagner as he shaped and reshaped his Ring. In the end, though, Wagner created a tragic drama that is all his own, focusing on the nature of love, its glory and its tragedy.

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Who Owns the Gold?

Richard Warren Shepro, a board member of both our Board of Directors and the Ryan Opera Center, is an international lawyer, professor, and writer. Here he writes about legal issues in The Ring of the Nibelung.

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Exploring Music

98.7WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network recently presented Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin's terrific weeklong exploration of Wagner's Ring cycle. If you happened to miss it, or heard it and want to listen again, you're in luck. Visit the WFMT website, click on LISTEN, and the full five hours is yours to enjoy.

Das Rheingold

The Rhinemaidens are guarding magic gold. If anyone renounces love and then makes the gold into a ring, he will become all-powerful. The Nibelung dwarf Alberich does this, then enslaves his brother Mime and all the other Nibelungs. Wotan, the chief god, hears of the ring and descends to Nibelheim in pursuit of it. After being captured by Wotan and forced to give up the ring, Alberich curses it. Wotan is warned by Erda, the earth-goddess, to aovid the ring. He gives it – and the rest of Alberich's hoard – to the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, as payment for their having built Valhalla, the gods' newly completed fortress. Fafner kills Fasolt to keep the ring for himself. The gods enter Valhalla with no hint of the catastrophes to come.

Explore Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold

The Rhinemaidens are guarding magic gold. If anyone renounces love and then makes the gold into a ring, he will become all-powerful. The Nibelung dwarf Alberich does this, then enslaves his brother Mime and all the other Nibelungs. Wotan, the chief god, hears of the ring and descends to Nibelheim in pursuit of it. After being captured by Wotan and forced to give up the ring, Alberich curses it. Wotan is warned by Erda, the earth-goddess, to aovid the ring. He gives it – and the rest of Alberich's hoard – to the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, as payment for their having built Valhalla, the gods' newly completed fortress. Fafner kills Fasolt to keep the ring for himself. The gods enter Valhalla with no hint of the catastrophes to come.

Explore Das Rheingold

“Lugt, Schwestern”

The three Rhinemaidens (Diana Newman, Annie Rosen, and Lindsay Ammann) joyously hail the splendor of the gold they are guarding, arousing the curiosity of Alberich, the Nibelung (Samuel Youn).

Die Walküre

Siegmund and Sieglinde are the mortal children of Wotan, king of the gods, and are separated early in their lives. In a storm, Siegmund seeks shelter in the home of Sieglinde and her husband, Hunding. The siblings recognize each other, fall in love, and run away together. Fricka, Wotan's wife and goddess of marriage, is appalled, and insists that Wotan side with Hunding, against his son. Wotan orders his Valkyrie daughter, Brünnhilde, to inform Siegmund that he will lose in his battle with Hunding. Impressed by Siegmund's courage, Brünnhilde disobeys by supporting him in the fight, but Wotan intervenes and Siegmund is killed. The distraught Sieglinde is ecstatic upon hearing from Brünnhilde that she is carrying Siegmund's child, Siegfried. The Valkyrie helps Sieglinde to escape Wotan's wrath, but Brünnhilde submits to her own punishment: Wotan puts her to sleep on a fire-surrounded rock, where only the world's bravest hero will be able to reach her.

Explore Die Walküre

“Hojotoho!” (Ride of the Valkyries)

The Valkyries exuberantly assemble, several of them bringing
fallen heroes from earth to defend the gods' fortress, Valhalla.

Siegfried

Siegfried, son of Siegmund and Sieglinde, has grown up – raised by the nasty dwarf, Mime. Siegfried forges anew the fragments of his father’s shattered sword, Nothung. Mime longs to have as his own the ring and the gold that are now guarded by the giant Fafner, who has now become a dragon. Siegfried manages to slay Fafner, taking with him the ring and the magic helmet (the Tarnhelm). Realizing that Mime intends to do him harm, Siegfried kills Mime. As the hero who knows no fear, Siegfried is able to penetrate the magic fire that surrounds Brünnhilde, who had been put to sleep as punishment by her father Wotan – she can be wakened only by a fearless hero. When Siegfried kisses her, she awakens as a mortal woman (no longer a goddess). The two fall ecstatically in love.

Explore Siegfried

Siegfried

Siegfried, son of Siegmund and Sieglinde, has grown up – raised by the nasty dwarf, Mime. Siegfried forges anew the fragments of his father’s shattered sword, Nothung. Mime longs to have as his own the ring and the gold that are now guarded by the giant Fafner, who has now become a dragon. Siegfried manages to slay Fafner, taking with him the ring and the magic helmet (the Tarnhelm). Realizing that Mime intends to do him harm, Siegfried kills Mime. As the hero who knows no fear, Siegfried is able to penetrate the magic fire that surrounds Brünnhilde, who had been put to sleep as punishment by her father Wotan – she can be wakened only by a fearless hero. When Siegfried kisses her, she awakens as a mortal woman (no longer a goddess). The two fall ecstatically in love.

Explore Siegfried

“Ewig war ich”

Brünnhilde (Christine Goerke), having been awakened from her
long sleep by Siegfried, was previously a warrior and a goddess,
but she is now a woman, and when Siegfried expresses his love
for her, she is terrified by new feelings she doesn't yet
understand.

Götterdämmerung

Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde with the ring and goes off on his travels. He meets the Gibichungs: Gunther, his sister Gutrune, and their half-brother Hagen (son of Alberich). Siegfried and Gunther drink to their new friendship, but Hagen has put a potion into the wine that makes Siegfried forget Brünnhilde and fall in love with Gutrune. Wearing the helmet that allows him to take any shape, Siegfried disguises himself as Gunther and — against her will — brings Brünnhilde to the Gibichungs' great hall to present her as Gunther's new wife. Seeing Siegfried there in his true form, and with Gutrune, Brünnhilde comprehends his betrayal and is enraged. She plots with Hagen and Gunther to kill Siegfried; on a hunting excursion, Hagen stabs him in the back (the only part of his body not impervious to injury). Brünnhilde is then remorseful. Ignoring Hagen's murder of the appalled Gunther, she has a funeral pyre built, places Siegfried's body on it, gallops onto the pyre herself astride her flying horse, Grane, and lights it. As the Rhine overflows its banks, the Rhinemaidens drag Hagen to his death. They retrieve the ring and return with it to their home underneath the waves, as the world is destroyed and then renewed.

Explore Götterdämmerung

The Heroes' Fund

Our Board of Directors Chair-Elect Sylvia Neil, along with her husband Dan Fischel, have started The Heroes’ Fund, which will be used to match contributions made to Lyric dollar-for-dollar during this trying time.

We invite you to participate in this heroic effort and have your gift matched.

Photos: Todd Rosenberg, Kyle Flubacker, Cory Weaver