Opera Australia: The Ring Cycle - 2013

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 23 May 2011 | 2:50:00 pm

THE MELBOURNE RING CYCLE 2013

Given that there are a few years to go till  opening night, information is still a little sketchy. To keep up-to-date visit the wesite: Opera Australia. But in the mean time here is what is known so far. And below is an interview with Richard Mills from the Australian. More shortly.


Opera Australia will present The Ring Cycle at the Arts Centre, Melbourne, during November and December 2013.

The Melbourne Ring Cycle will be a journey through 15 hours of Wagner's music across four nights in the theatre. Opera Australia will perform three complete cycles during November/December 2013, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth.

The creative team will be led by two celebrated Australian talents - director Neil Armfield and conductor Richard Mills.

The cast will include:
Susan Bullock as Brunnhilde
Juha Uusitalo as Wotan
Gary Lehman as Siegfried
John Wegner as Alberich

Further cast details will be announced over the coming months.

Tickets to go on sale at the end of 2011


In for the long haul

YOU can almost hear the valkyries coming over the mountain: a hot wind blowing, the pounding of horses' hoofs and the famous war cry -- Hojotoho! -- all set to Richard Wagner's wonderfully bombastic music. For a long time Ring cycles weren't performed in Australia, at least not in their epic, four-part entirety.

Richard Mills
Richard Mills
Now they're like buses: nothing, then several at once.

There have been two in Adelaide, in 1998 and 2004, and now Opera Australia will be presenting its first, long overdue Ring in 2013. It's a red-letter year for Wagner fans, being the bicentenary of the composer's birth. That's still more than two years away and so far only the broadest details of the enterprise have been announced: the principal cast and artistic team, and the venue at Melbourne's State Theatre.

For Richard Mills, though, the valkyries are getting louder and closer by the day. The success of this multimillion-dollar enterprise -- the benchmark by which world opera companies are judged -- and the verdict of notoriously obsessive Wagnerians rests with him: the man who would conduct The Ring.

It's already rocking his world. Mills, a composer, conductor and mild-mannered agitator, lives in a converted warehouse in Brunswick, in Melbourne's inner suburbs. When he greets you at the nondescript front door and leads you up the stairs to his studio, the first thing your eyes land on is a shelf of CD box sets, recordings of Der Ring des Nibelungen by all the master conductors: Solti, Furtwangler, Knappertsbusch, Boulez. Those, and a plastic horned helmet. Mills seems to enjoy mixing high seriousness with the faintly ridiculous.

"Technically, just in terms of conducting, The Ring is a much easier opera to conduct than Fledermaus or The Marriage of Figaro," he says, before introducing a metaphor he perhaps didn't think through.

"It's like driving the Titanic, or piloting a 747, as distinct from a DC-3 or a fighter, something that's much more agile and responsive. Whereas [piloting] a big ship is much simpler because its motions are much steadier in a way."

Mills certainly is taking the task seriously and feels the weight of responsibility. Better known as a composer than a conductor, he has written, among many other works, some of the most ambitious and successful new Australian operas in recent years. In his other job, he's the artistic director at West Australian Opera in Perth.

In terms of conducting Wagner in fully staged productions, though, Mills is a relative newcomer. He has conducted some "big chunks of Walkure", and in Brisbane in 2005 a concert of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde: a lucid, beautifully prepared performance. He was then to have conducted a short season of Tristan for WA Opera but had to pull out because of illness. So the Brisbane Tristan became his retrospective audition for The Ring.