"Producing the Ring is a rite of passage which every opera company aspires to undertake" Opera North's Richard Mantle

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 | 9:58:00 pm

Wagner's Ring is the ultimate test for an opera company: an epic, 16-hour cycle of four mythological operas that is both expensive to stage and to watch. A stalls seat for the Royal Opera's cycle later this year costs £1,000; while the most recent attempt of a British regional company to mount the work – by Scottish Opera in 2003 – almost resulted in the company going out of business.

So how is a medium-sized touring company expected to produce the Ring and remain solvent? Last year Opera North undertook the biggest project in the company's 34-year history, to mount one instalment of the cycle a year between 2011-14. Given the financially straitened times, it might seem to be grand folly. Yet the project has been determined by the controversial, yet cost-effective decision to present the operas as semi-staged versions in concert halls rather than theatres.

"Producing the Ring is a rite of passage which every opera company aspires to undertake," said Opera North's general director, Richard Mantle. "But I was adamant that we would not bankrupt ourselves doing it."

Continue Reading: Opera North tackles Wagner's Ring Cycle