The FRANCESCA ZAMBELLO Production
Musical Direction: DONALD RUNNICLES
This staging of the Ring Cycle is an excellent example of a production updated to contemporary times, in a distinctly 21st century-American setting. Which is why it’s becoming known as the “American Ring.” But why do today’s opera directors give themselves artistic license to re-imagine a composer’s vision of his or her work, transporting, as Zambello does in this production for example, Wagner’s mythic characters to a problem-laden business/industrial setting? The most commonly accepted reason is to make the story and whatever message it seeks to convey more closely reflect the world we live in. The hoped-for end result is a captive audience who, being able to relate to the work with little or no effort, eventually become repeat opera-goers, thereby ensuring the survival of an endangered art form. Of course, opera-lovers being what they are, will never be of one mind about updated productions. But those with open minds will agree that when they work, updated productions of even the most beloved classics can be an aesthetically satisfying experience.
NINA STEMME – Brünnhilde, MARK DELAVAN – Wotan, JAY HUNTER MORRIS / IAN STOREY – Siegfried, GORDON HAWKINS – Alberich, ELIZABETH BISHOP – Fricka, DAVID CANGELOSI – Mime, ANJA KAMPE / HEIDI MELTON – as Sieglinde, BRANDON JOVANOVICH – Siegmund, STEFAN MARGITA – Loge, GERD GROCHOWSKI – Gunther, and ANDREA SILVESTRELLI – Hagen.
The Swedish soprano NINA STEMME who sang a soaring Brünnhilde in this, her first complete Ring Cycle, is the prospective first among equals of her generation of Wagnerian singers. She and the other singers of this Cycle’s esteemed cast will in time find their gilded names lined up alongside some of the most illustrious names, now considered legend, in operatic history who began San Francisco Opera’s tradition of fine Ring Cycle performances: KIRSTEN FLAGSTAD, HELEN TRAUBEL, BIRGIT NILSSON, GWYNETH JONES, HILDEGARD BEHRENS, EVA MARTON, LEONIE RYSANEK, REGINE CRESPIN, REGINA RESNIK; HANS HOTTER, THOMAS STEWART, LAURITZ MELCHIOR, JESS THOMAS, WALTER BERRY, JAMES MORRIS.