The Valkyries will ride into Dallas when the Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents Richard Wagner’s complete Der Ring des Nibelungen as an opera-in-concert series in 2024.
“As you know, Wagner’s operas are of the utmost importance to the operatic repertoire, but operas rarely get a chance to be performed in their entirety in the orchestral world,” said Kim Noltemy, the orchestra’s Ross Perot President & CEO, at an event announcing the project.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is the first US orchestra to perform the full Ring cycle in concert in recent history.
“I think it is a historical moment for the DSO and for the musical world in the United States,” said Fabio Luisi, the orchestra’s Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Director.
Wagner completed the epic music drama in 1874. The work consists of four operas: Das Reingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Each opera can be performed separately, but Wagner intended them to be performed together as a series. The plot centers on an all-powerful magical ring and the mythical gods who desire it.
The orchestra will perform the individual operas in May and October 2024. From October 13-20, 2024, the orchestra will present the full Ring cycle, the operatic equivalent of binge-watching a favorite epic fantasy film series.
The DSO’s opera-in-concert series strips away the theatrical spectacle, focusing on the music.
“What we are doing is putting the orchestra in the center of this project,” Luisi said. “I am so happy that I can introduce as a conductor the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to the Ring cycle in its entirety.”
Luisi won his first Grammy Award for conducting the last two operas of the Ring cycle for The Metropolitan Opera and he also led three complete Ring cycles in Dresden 2006-2008.
“I know and I feel how important this work is for the musical and personal development of a musician," Luisi said. "This work has played a huge role in my personal development as a conductor, as a musician and I think I should share this experience with my musicians in the orchestra."
Planning for the DSO’s production began two years ago.
“The preparation is very intense for this kind of work," Luisi said. "Of course, we’re talking about almost 20 hours of music."
Assembling the right cast was Luisi’s top priority.
“You don’t only need voices; you need the right characters for this, and you need to have a real spiritual, personal union between singers who are singing the roles and the roles themselves,” Luisi said.
Luisi is happy to secure his first choice for two significant leads. American soprano Lise Lindstrom will play Brünnhilde and American bass-baritone will sing the role of Wotan. Both singers have worked with Luisi on other projects, and they joined the announcement event via Zoom.
Lindstrom recently sang the role of Brünnhilde at Staatsoper Hamburg, conducted by Kent Nagano.
“It’s just the best role there is as far as I’m concerned," Lindstrom said. "I sing a lot of homicidal ladies and it’s rather refreshing to sing the heroine. It’s one of the best journeys anyone can possibly take as an artist.”
Delavan played Wotan in the 2012/2013 Metropolitan Opera production of the Ring cycle when Luisi conducted it.
“It is a wildly satisfying experience no matter how you do it,” Delavan said. “Whether we stage it in concert or whether we stage it on the moon, Wagner’s Ring cycle transcends everything.”
Lindstrom appreciates the opportunity to explore the characters in-depth over three performances.
“This is like Shakespeare on steroids because it is such a long project,” Lindstrom said. “The characters evolve over an entire lifetime of a character, so you see Brünnhilde from her adolescence through into her womanhood and through this incredible evolution of facets of her personality.”
The Ring cycle is the continuation of Luisi’s artistic plan for the orchestra to perform opera. The orchestra has recently performed Strauss’ Salome and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The orchestra released Eugene Onegin as a concert video as part of the DSO’s Next Stage Digital Concert Series.
The orchestra plans to release Der Ring des Nibelungen in the same concert video format as Eugene Onegin in January 2025, forever capturing the orchestra’s epic artistic effort.
“It’s quite an Everest to climb,” Lindstrom said.
Learn more: https://www.dallassymphony.org/