In Quest of Sir David Pountney’s Production of the “Ring of the Nibelungs”- Lyric Opera of Chicago, April 2020

Update: The Lyric Opera announced on March 12, 2020 that all scheduled performances of Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelungs” were canceled, in response the declaration of a national emergency related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Aptil 2020, the Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts the complete production of Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelungs”, with sets created from the designs of the late Johan Engels, realized by designer Robert Innes Hopkins. The first three “Ring” operas were produced in Lyric’s 2016, 2017 amd 2018 seasons. The fourth, “Götterdämmerung”, will debut in two performances in the few days before the presentation of the first complete “Ring”. Lyric Opera’s music director, Sir Andrew Davis, conducts all performances.

Das Rheingold (Wagner), Lyric Opera of Chicago, April 13, 20 and 27, 2020

The prologue opera to Wagner’s exposition of the Nibelung sage, “Rheingold” introduces world weary Rhinemaidens, who indiscreetly make the Nibelung Alberich aware of the magic words renouncing love, that, if uttered, would reward him with immense wealth and power.

[Below: Wotan (Eric Owens, bottom right corner) shows off the newly built Valhalla to his family members; edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.]

The opportunistic Alberich chooses world domination over sexual pleasure, setting in motion a sequence of events that will take over 16 hours of opera to tell. It will involve such Old Norse mythical characters as Wotan, Donner, Loge and Fricka (whose names in other epics inspired by the Old Norse myths are Odin, Thor, Loki and Frigga).

Eric Owens is Wotan, Samuel Youn is Alberich, Stefan Margita is Loge in the first two Rings, Robert Brubaker in the third. Tanja Ariane Baumgartner is Fricka, Ronnita Miller is Erda, Matthias Klink is Mime. Laura Wilde is Freia, Brandon Jovanovich is Froh and Brian Mulligan is Donner. The Rhinemaidens are Diana Newman, Annie Rosen and LIndsay Amman.

Die Walküre (Wagner), Lyric Opera of Chicago, April 14, 21 and 29, 2020.

Repeating their roles from “Rheingold” are Eric Owens (Wotan) and Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Fricka). Brandon Jovanovich takes on the role of Siegmund with Elisabet Strid as his sister Sieglinde for the first two cycles with Laura Wilde taking over that role in the third cycle.

[Below: Against order, Brunnhilde (Christine Goerke, left) encourages Siegmund (Brandon Jovanovich, right) to prepare himself for victory; edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.]

Stephen Milling is Hunding. The eight valkyrie sisters will include Alexandria LoBianco, Catherine Martin, Lindsay Ammann, Krysty Swann and (for the first two cycles) Laura Wilde.

[For my previous review of the production, see: Review: Chicago’s Imaginative New “Walküre”: Goerke, Owens, Jovanovich, Strid Excel – Lyric Opera, November 30, 2017.]

Siegfried (Wagner), Lyric Opera of Chicago, April 16 and 23 and May 1, 2020.

Burkhard Fritz sings the title role. Returning from “Walküre” is Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde.

[Photo: Burkhard Fritz as Siegfried; edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.]

Returning from “Rheingold” and “Walküre” is Eric Owens as Wotan the Wanderer. Joining him from “Rheingold” are Matthias Klink (Mime), Samuel Youn (Alberich), Soloman Howard (Fafner) and Ronnita Miller (Erda). Diana Newman becomes the Woodbird.

[For my previous review of the production, see: Review: Explosive Ovations for Chicago’s Spectacular New “Siegfried” – Lyric Opera, November 3, 2018.]

Götterdämmerung (Wagner), Lyric Opera of Chicago, April 18 and 25 and May 3, 2020.

Christine Goerke and Burkhard Fritz return as Brünnhilde and Siegmund. Stephen Milling is Hagen, Brian Mulligan is Gunther and Mary Elizabeth Williams is Gutrune.

[Below: a model for the immolation scene that ends Götterdämmerung; edited image of a production model, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. }

Diana Newman, Annie Rosen and Lindsay Ammann return from “Rheingold” as the Rhinemaidens. Tanja Ariane Baumgartner is Waltraute. Ronnita Miller, Catherine Martin and Laura Wilde are the Three Norns.

This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed through August, 2020:

Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore at the Sarasota Opera, Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” at the Los Angeles Opera and Verdi’s “Ernani” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Donizetti and Early Verdi (January-July, 2020)]

Rodgers’ and Hammestein’s “The Sound of Music” at the Glimmerglass Festival. [See In Quest of Intriguing Opera Productions – September, 2019-August, 2020

Wagner’s “Die Feen” at the Glimmerglass Festival and Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and Dvorak’s “Rusalka” at the Santa Fe Opera. See [In Quest of Operas Based on Myths and Fairy Tales – November 2019 – August 2020]

Bates’ “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” at the San Francisco Operaand Ruo’s “M. Butterfly” at the Santa Fe Opera. [See In Quest of 21st Century Operas, August 2019-August 2020]

Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette” at the Sarasota Opera, and Debussy’s “Pelleas et Melisande” at the Los Angeles Opera. [See In Quest of French Operatic Masterpieces – June, 2019-May 2020.]

Puccini’s “La Boheme” and Catalani’s “La Wally” at the Sarasota Opera.  [See In Quest of 1890s Italian Verismo Operas – September 2019 – March 2020.]

Handel’s “Partenope” at the San Francisco Opera [See In Quest of Handel Operas – June 2019-July 2020.]