San Francisco Opera will present Richard Wagner’s epic “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (The Ring of the Nibelung) in three complete cycles, each presented over the course of one week as the composer originally intended, from June 12 through July 1 at the War Memorial Opera House.
Encompassing four operas—”Das Rheingold,” “Die Walküre,” “Siegfried” and “Götterdämmerung” — and more than 17 hours, the story and music of Wagner’s Ring are one of the most ambitious works of music, theater and stagecraft ever created.
In anticipation of the performances, San Francisco Opera has announced a schedule for its Ring Festival events designed to provide the public, from first-timers to experienced Ring-goers, with activities including lectures, symposia, film screenings, musical programs, public discussions and a Ring Community Day for families.
An international cast of Wagnerian artists has been assembled for San Francisco Opera’s performances of Wagner’s epic, including Evelyn Herlitzius (Brünnhilde), Greer Grimsley (Wotan), Daniel Brenna (Siegfried), Karita Mattila (Sieglinde), Brandon Jovanovich (Froh and Siegmund), Falk Struckmann (Alberich), Jamie Barton (Fricka) and many others, directed by Francesca Zambello and under the baton of Wagnerian conductor Donald Runnicles.
All artists will perform their roles in each of the three cycles, which are scheduled for June 12–17, June 19–24 and June 26–July 1. Ring cycle performances take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Ring Festival events begin this month and extend through June with events taking place during each cycle on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock said, “If there is one artistic undertaking that demonstrates the complete mettle of an opera company it is Wagner’s Ring. San Francisco Opera has a storied history with this life-affirming work, and it is a great privilege for all of us to bring it to the stage once again. It will take us all on a powerful journey, deep into the very understanding of what it means to be human. There are no bounds to how far one can explore this monumental artwork and we are so happy to be presenting a number of engaging Ring Festival events around the cycles. This is a unique opportunity to get immersed in one unbelievably powerful event. I can’t wait!”
The Ring Festival
In partnership with Bay Area cultural institutions, San Francisco Opera has curated a Ring Festival offering a multitude of public events that explore Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen saga and offer deeper engagement with the tetralogy’s themes, characters and musical storytelling. Ring Festival activities leading up to the June performances include:
— an April 26 lecture and exhibition tour in the popular Thursday Nights at the Asian Art Museum series;
— a May 21 public discussion about the work at the Commonwealth Club featuring director Francesca Zambello and special guests;
— a Ring Community Day on June 9 offering interactive Ring-related activities for all ages.
Festival events held at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera punctuate each of the three Ring cycle weeks. On Tuesdays, before each evening performance of Das Rheingold, a three-part Ring 101 overview will be presented. Ring 101 begins with an introduction to Wagner’s masterpiece by San Francisco Opera Dramaturg Dr. Clifford “Kip” Cranna, followed by a presentation from the San Francisco Opera Archives about the history of the Ring in San Francisco from 1900–2018 and concludes with interviews with guest artists from the Ring production.
Each Thursday, between performances of “Die Walküre” and “Siegfried,” activities are available throughout the day beginning with a Ring Symposium featuring panel discussions with artists and other Ring colleagues. Midday, the 2000 film Sing Faster–The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle by Academy Award-nominated director Jon Else will be screened, followed by a hosted Q&A.
In the evenings, the San Francisco Opera Chorus will be featured in Wagner Chorus Concerts showcasing the choral music from the works of Richard Wagner.
On each Saturday, between performances of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, San Francisco Opera in collaboration with the Wagner Society of Northern California will present a series of Ring Forums. These day-long events offer in-depth explorations of the Ring by distinguished Wagner experts. Each Ring forum will feature different speakers presenting on a variety of topics relating to the Ring.
San Francisco Opera first produced Wagner’s masterwork in 1935 with Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund/Siegfried), Elisabeth Rethberg (Sieglinde) and Friedrich Schorr (Wotan), with Artur Bodanzky conducting.
In 1972, the company mounted a new staging as part of its 50th anniversary of performing in the War Memorial Opera House. A new production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff and conducted by San Francisco Symphony Music Director Edo De Waart was unveiled in 1985. Maestro Runnicles led presentations of the Ring at San Francisco Opera in 1990, 1999 and the premiere of the new production by Francesca Zambello in 2011.
For details of past San Francisco Opera presentations of the Ring, visit the online performance archive at archive.sfopera.com.
Tickets and information
Ticket packages for Wagner’s Ring cycle (complete four-opera cycles only) range from $400 to $2,000 in select sections with limited availability. Current pricing is valid until March 1 and subject to change after this date. Visit sfopera.com/ring for further details or call the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330. San Francisco Opera Box Office hours are Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ring Festival events are open to the public.
For tickets and more information, visit sfopera.com/ringfestival.
The War Memorial Opera House is at 301 Van Ness Ave.