Fall preview: Opera & Classical

Sept 27

The Met reveals a Ring like you've never seen it

For any opera company, mounting a new production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, an epic four-part cycle dealing with tales of gods, warriors, forbidden love and redemption, is among the most arduous and expensive undertakings possible in an intrinsically extravagant art form. Factor in the recent economic downturn, and the idea of producing a new Ring becomes a daunting proposition—as the Los Angeles Opera learned by racking up a multimillion dollar debt with a new Ring that concluded last spring. Even so, Wagner's cycle is among the few operatic events that guarantee global attention: Ring junkies travel the globe more ardently than Star Wars cosplayers. That's why the Metropolitan Opera is pulling out all the stops for a new Ring cycle to kick off its new season. Das Rheingold, the saga's prelude, opens on September 27, ushering in noted Wagnerian James Levine's 40th season as the Met music director. Die Walkre, the second installment, arrives in April; the full cycle will be complete by 2012, anticipating the Wagner bicentennial the following year.To forge the company's new Ring, general manager Peter Gelb tapped inventive Canadian stage director Robert Lepage, who drew upon the Eddic sagas of Iceland to fashion a primordial yet technologically futuristic multimedia staging. "Robert is one of the true visionary theatrical geniuses," Gelb says, "who has somehow in his extraordinary imagination come up with an idea for a Ring production that is unlike any that has ever preceded it, and also pushes every possible technological and theatrical envelope." No small undertaking, Lepage's staging even required the Met to reinforce its stage platform. Still, Gelb notes, with the company's previous version now more than 20 years old, the timing was right—and a single generous benefactor, Ann Ziff, underwrote the entire production. Factor in leading stars like Bryn Terfel and Stephanie Blythe in Rheingold, and Deborah Voigt and Jonas Kaufmann in Walkre, and the results, Gelb promises, "will thrill and excite opera lovers, and bring new opera lovers to the Met."—Steve Smith
Das Rheingold opens on Sept 27.

Oct 28--Nov 18

The White Light Festival heats up Lincoln Center

Even the marketing materials—with text bathed in a slightly golden glow—are sexy for this new festival at the nexus of New York arts and culture. Trade your breezy summer Mozart for the seasonally profound Brahms German Requiem, performed by the Dresden Staatskapelle and superb conductor Daniel Harding (Oct 31); two late-night concerts by hot young pianist Alexei Lubimov (Nov 11, 13); and Indian spiritual sounds in music-theater work The Manganiyar Seduction (Nov 17, 18). Bring a concert partner—it could be too hot to handle on your own.—Olivia Giovetti
Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) (lincolncenter.org). $25--$90.

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George Manahan Q&A
The New York City Opera fixture goes from working with dead composers to live ones at American Composers Orchestra.