Opera On 3 - Wagner's Ring Cycle


01Wagner's Ring Cycle: Das Rheingold2018102720210217 (R3)Over the next four evenings, another chance to hear the remarkable performances of Wagner's Ring cycle, recorded and first broadcast in 2018, starting this evening with Das Rheingold.

It's a world of mythical giants and castles, magic potions and scheming dwarves, and the central toxic influence of the all-powerful ring, guarded by the Rhinemaidens. A lecherous Nibelung dwarf called Alberich renounces love and steals the gold from the Rhinemaidens, and heads to Nibelheim where he builds an empire based on fear and slave labour. We also meet Wotan the chief god in his castle Valhalla, which he had built by the giants, and who when he hears of the all-powerful ring, decides he wants it for himself, and in turn steals it from Alberich.
A stellar cast led by John Lundgren as Wotan is conducted by Antonio Pappano, and the cycle is presented by Tom Service.

Wotan ..... John Lundgren (baritone)
Alberich ..... Johannes-Martin Kranzle (baritone)
Loge ..... Alan Oke (tenor)
Erda ..... Wiebke Lehmkuhl (contralto)
Fricka ..... Sarah Connolly (mezzo)
Freia ..... Lise Davidsen (soprano)
Donner ..... Markus Eiche (baritone)
Froh ..... Andrew Staples (tenor)
Mime ..... Gerhard Siegel (tenor)
Fasolt ..... Gunther Groissbock (bass)
Fafner ..... Brindley Sherratt (bass)
Woglinde ..... Lauren Fagan (soprano)
Wellgunde ..... Christina Bock (mezzo)
Flosshilde ..... Angela Simkin (mezzo)
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Antonio Pappano (conductor)

The branches of the World Ash Tree held together the universe:; Riesenheim, home of the giants; the earth, with the Rhine and his daughters; and Nibelheim, inhabited by the Nibelungs. The god Wotan drank from the spring of eternal knowledge beneath the World Ash Tree, sacrificing an eye in return for wisdom..

Scene 1
The three Rhinedaughters – Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde – are playing. Alberich, a Nibelung, watches them, utterly enchanted. Sunlight falls on the gold. Alberich asks about the treasure. They tell him that it is the Rhinegold, which if made into a ring would give its owner infinite power over the world; it can be forged, however, only by someone who renounces love. Alberich seizes the gold.

Scene 2
Fricka sees the fortress built for the gods by the giants Fafner and Fasolt. Wotan is overjoyed at the sight of it. Fricka reminds him that as payment he promised to give the giants her sister, Freia. She reproaches Wotan for his willingness to trade love for power, but he replies that he is depending on Loge’s ingenuity to solve the problem.

Freia arrives, terrified, followed by Fafner and Fasolt. Wotan tells the giants to choose another form of payment. Fasolt points to the laws carved on Wotan’s spear and reminds him that they are binding. Loge says he has travelled the world looking for an acceptable substitute for Freia, but has learnt that nothing is of greater value than a woman’s love. He found only one person who would sacrifice love:

Alberich, who stole the Rhinegold. Loge tells Wotan that the Rhinedaughters want his help to get it back. Fasolt and Fafner ask about the gold and Loge explains that a ring forged from it gives absolute power. Gods and giants alike are greedy for it. The giants say they will exchange Freia for Alberich’s treasure. As the giants leave with Freia, the gods rapidly age: without her apples they are helpless. Wotan resolves to get the gold and descends with Loge to Nibelheim.

Scene 3
Alberich torments his brother Mime, who has made a magic helmet, the Tarnhelm. Mime tells Loge his tale of woe and recounts how the Nibelungs, once contented craftsmen, are enslaved by Alberich. Alberich returns, brandishing his ring and driving his terrified slaves back. Alberich turns himself into a giant figure, whereupon Loge and Wotan pretend to be frightened. When Loge asks if he can become very small, Alberich transforms himself into a toad. Wotan and Loge pounce on him, grab the Tarnhelm and drag him out of Nibelheim.

Scene 4
Loge and Wotan mock Alberich and tell him that the cost of his freedom is his gold. Wotan now insists Alberich give him the ring too, Alberich’s sin was against himself alone; Wotan’s will be against all existence if he takes the ring. Wotan tears it away from Alberich, who puts a curse on it: it will bring anguish and death to those who possess it while everyone else will be consumed by envy.

Freia returns with the giants, restoring the gods’ strength. Fasolt does not want to give Freia back, and orders that the gold be piled up to hide her from his sight. Erda, the earth goddess, appears. She reminds Wotan of the curse on the ring and says a dark day is dawning for the gods: he must surrender the ring. Erda disappears and Wotan agrees to hand over the ring. Freia is freed. When Fasolt seizes the ring, Fafner kills him. A rainbow bridge leads the gods to their new fortress, which Wotan names Valhalla (hall of the slain).

Das Rheingold, the first of the four operas comprising Wagner's Ring cycle, from the ROH.

Wagner's Ring cycle from the Royal Opera House, conducted by Antonio Pappano.

02Wagner's Ring Cycle: Die Walkfcre2018110320210218 (R3)Continuing Wagner's Ring cycle, recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and first broadcast in 2018.

This evening, Wagner's opera Die Walküre, the second opera in the The Ring of the Nibelung cycle.
Time has passed since the gods moved to the their new home Vallhalla, and their leader Wotan is still in search of the gold that will grant him unlimited power. He wants to use the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde, born to him out of wedlock, to retrieve it. But Fricka, as guardian of marriage, insists that Siegmund pays for his husband transgressions and wants him killed. Wotan reluctantly agrees and forces the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, his warrior daughter, also raised out of wedlock, not to protect Siegmund in a fight. But the walkyrie falls in love with Siegmund and disobeys Wotan, and as a result she is stripped of her divinity and left on a fire-encircled rock. Brunnhilde’s efforts are useless as Siegmund pays with his life in this doomed saga that moves from the realm of the gods to the human sphere.

Sir Antonio Pappano conducts a cast with Stuart Skelton as Siegmund, Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde, John Lundgren as Wotan and Sarah Connolly as Fricka.

Tom Service presents.

Siegmund ….. Stuart Skelton (tenor)
Sieglinde ….. Emily Magee (soprano)
Hunding ….. Ain Anger (bass)
Wotan ….. John Lundgren (baritone)
Brünnhilde ….. Nina Stemme (soprano)
Fricka ….. Sarah Connolly (mezzo)

Gerhilde ….. Alwyn Mellor (soprano)
Ortlinde ….. Lise Davidsen (soprano)
Waltraute ….. Kai Rüütel (soprano)
Schwertleite ….. Claudia Huckle (contralto)
Helmwige ….. Maida Hundeling (soprano)
Siegrune ….. Catherine Carby (mezzo)
Grimgerde ….. Monika-Evelin Liiv (mezzo)
Rossweisse ….. Emma Carrington (mezzo)

Royal Opera House Orchestra
Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor)

Wotan has been prey to anxiety ever since he stole the ring from Alberich and used it to pay the giants rather than returning it to the Rhinedaughters. Desperate to protect himself should Alberich regain the ring, he has sought out Erda, who bore him the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde. Wotan, in the meantime, has also fathered Siegmund and Sieglinde, the Wälsung twins, with a mortal woman. With Siegmund, Wotan hopes to create a free being who will recover the ring, for he fears the curse Alberich placed on him when he violated his own rule of law.
Act I
A storm is raging. A man takes shelter. Sieglinde offers him first water, then mead, which he asks her to share. Hunding returns and offers the stranger grudging hospitality. He notices a resemblance between his wife and the stranger. The stranger tells his tale. Plagued by misfortune, the fugitive recalls the sword his father once promised he would find in his hour of greatest need. Sieglinde returns, having drugged Hunding. She recounts how, at her enforced wedding to Hunding, a stranger appeared and thrust a sword into the tree trunk. No one has been able to pull it out. She is convinced he is her twin; she names him Siegmund and urges him to remove the sword from the tree. He draws it out and claims Sieglinde as both bride and sister.

Act II
Wotan instructs Brünnhilde, his favourite Valkyrie daughter, to ensure that Siegmund wins the fight with Hunding. Fricka demands to know how Wotan can both sanction incest and uphold the supremacy of the gods so Wotan tells Brünnhilde that she must not protect Siegmund and threatens the direst consequences if she disobeys.
Brünnhilde appears to Siegmund and announces that he will die in battle and join the other heroes in Valhalla. There he will meet his father. When Siegmund learns that he cannot take Sieglinde he refuses the afterlife. He threatens to kill both Sieglinde and their unborn child, announced by the Valkyrie, rather than be separated from her. Moved by compassion, Brünnhilde promises to safeguard Siegmund. Hunding’s horn is heard. Brünnhilde tries to protect Siegmund but Wotan shatters Siegmund’s sword with his spear. Siegmund is struck dead. Brünnhilde gathers the pieces of broken sword and flees with Sieglinde.

The Valkyries gather dead warriors for Valhalla. Brünnhilde arrives and the Valkyries are shocked to see that she is accompanied by a mortal woman. Sieglinde wants to die, but when Brünnhilde tells her that she is carrying Siegmund’s son, who will be the noblest hero in the world, she begs protection. Wotan arrives and the Valkyries try to hide Brünnhilde from his wrath, he denounces her disobedience and banishes her from Valhalla. She will be left to sleep until a mortal man wakes her and she will be turned into a ‘domestic’ wife. Wotan remains unforgiving, even when she tells him that a Wälsung hero will be born to Sieglinde. Finally, Brünnhilde asks to be surrounded by fire so that only an outstanding hero will find her. Wotan agrees to this solution and bids her farewell. He calls on Loge, the fire god, to encircle her with flames.

Wagner's Die Walk\u00fcre, part of the Ring cycle at the ROH. Antonio Pappano conducts.

Wagner's Ring cycle from the Royal Opera House, conducted by Antonio Pappano.

03Wagner's Ring Cycle: Siegfried2018111720210219 (R3)Continuing the broadcasts of Wagner's Ring cycle from 2018 from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, this evening: Siegfried.
As Wagner's epic drama reaches its third part, an embittered dwarf covets a ring guarded by a dragon killed by the heroic Siegfried who encounters a woman (his aunt, Brünnhilde) and for the first time is afraid and then in love.

The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and a stellar cast led by Stefan Vinke in the title role is conducted by Antonio Pappano in Keith Warner's acclaimed production. Presented by Tom Service.

Antonio Pappano gives a brief illustrated listening guide to Siegfried.
Act 1

Dread, hydration, sweat, good digestion and an incredible feeling of elation: Stefan Vinke, veteran of over 100 performances of Siegfried, on the challenges and rewards of singing one of the most demanding tenor roles of the repertoire.

Act 2

ROH Orchestra principal horn Roger Montgomery explains the workings and role of the Wagner tuba in The Ring. And Michael Portillo reflects on The Ring, its place in his life and its depiction of power and love.

Act 3

Siegfried ..... Stefan Vinke (tenor)
Brünnhilde ..... Nina Stemme (soprano)
Mime ..... Gerhard Siegel (tenor)
Wanderer ..... John Lundgren (baritone)
Alberich ..... Johannes Martin Kränzle (baritone)
Fafner ..... Brindley Sherratt (bass)
Erda ..... Wiebke Lehmkuhl (contralto)
Woodbird ..... Heather Engebretson (soprano)
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Antonio Pappano (Conductor)

Siegfried, the third of the four operas of Wagner's epic Ring cycle.

Wagner's Ring cycle from the Royal Opera House, conducted by Antonio Pappano.

04Wagner's Ring Cycle: Gf6tterde4mmerung2018122920210220 (R3)This evening sees the conclusion of Wagner's Ring cycle, recorded and first broadcast in 2018.

As Wagner's epic drama reaches its conclusion in the fourth and final opera, the love between Siegfried and Brünnhilde is torn apart by the malignant machinations and lust for the Ring of the black-hearted Hagen. Brünnhilde's revenge brings Siegfried's death, and ultimately the fiery destruction of the gods and Valhalla itself.

The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and a stellar cast led by Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde and Stefan Vinke as Siegfried is conducted by Antonio Pappano in Keith Warner's acclaimed production. Presented by Tom Service, who is joined in the box by the Rev. Lucy Winkett.

Wagner: Götterdämmerung

5.00pm: Act 1

7.05pm: Interval

7.15pm: Act 2

8.20pm: Interval

8.40pm: Act 3

Brünnhilde.... Nina Stemme (soprano)
Siegfried.... Stefan Vinke (tenor)
Alberich.... Johannes Martin Kränzle (baritone)
Gunther.... Markus Butter (baritone)
Gutrune.... Emily Magee (soprano)
Hagen.... Stephen Milling (bass)
Waltraute.... Karen Cargill (mezzo)
First Norn.... Claudia Huckle (contralto)
Second Norn.... Irmgard Vilsmaier (soprano)
Third Norn.... Lise Davidsen (soprano)
Woglinde.... Lauren Fagan (soprano)
Weilgunde.... Rachael Lloyd (mezzo)
Flosshilde.... Angela Simkin (mezzo)
Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus
Antonio Pappano (conductor)

For full synopsis please visit programme page
Photo credit: Bill Cooper/ ROH 2018

G\u00f6tterd\u00e4mmerung, the last of the four operas of Wagner's Ring cycle.

Wagner's Ring cycle from the Royal Opera House, conducted by Antonio Pappano.