It might be a stretch to say that this summer’s Ring Cycle is the most epic opera event ever - but not by much. Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is widely considered one of the greatest operatic works ever created, featuring four operas worth of gods and heroes, great loves and tragic betrayal, dwarves and those ever-popular rings of power. Widely considered one of the leading producers of the cycle, San Francisco Opera pulls out all the stops with a brilliant roster of singers, one of the world’s most acclaimed Wagner conductors, and the vision of internationally celebrated director Francesca Zambello. Suffice it to say, the Ring Cycle’s singing Norse gods and Valkyries get the best treatment possible.
Pulling from various eras of American history, this version lends new insight to the work and adeptly invokes a world where nature and human virtue are subsumed by lust and greed. Das Reinghold draws from California’s Gold Rush to illustrate the story of maidens guarding the precious metal and the malicious short dude who filches the gold to forge a cursed ring. Loving but disobedient daughters, wounded gods, and the curse of the ring make Die Walkure a tragic and moving installment. A generation later, a hero tries to recover the ring via magic sword and dragon-battling in Seigfried. Gotterdammerung is a world premiere production with bravery, betrayal, destruction, renewal, and self-sacrifice for the good of the world.
So yeah, there’s a lot going on at the opera house this summer. And all of it promises to be as epic as any opera-goer could hope.
Das Reinghold runs June 14-28. Die Walkure runs June 15-29. Siegfried runs May 29-July 1. Gotterdammerung runs June 5-July 3. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue. Tickets are $95-360 at 415-864-3330 or sfopera.com.