Richard Wagner's epic 1876 cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (commonly referred to as the Ring Cycle) is rarely produced because of the sheer mammoth task and expense of the thing. So when Opera Australia tasked Neil Armfield with creating a new Australian version for their 2013 season, local 'Ring nuts' were pretty psyched. As it returns to stage in 2016, Time Out prepped a handy guide to get you up to speed, and then full reviews of each opera: Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and finally Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods).
We said: "People who travel the world to see the cycle are affectionately referred to as “Ring nuts”. After a single performance of the first opera in the cycle – at two and a half hours without an interval it’s really only an amuse-bouche for the lengthy meals to follow – you’ll be tempted to join the club."
We said: “This remarkable three-person mini-drama, with incestuous love as its engine, seems as brazen now as it must have on its premiere back in 1876. … It’s startling proof of art’s transcendent power over morality, and a perfect demonstration of the central theme of the whole cycle: love surpasses strictures, and humanity cannot be contained."
We said: "Wagner drew together all of his powers to produce Siegfried – and the effect is an expansion, as well as a deepening, of his earlier concerns. The questions he asks, about the nature of erotic love, about the responsibility we have to a godhead and the responsibility that godhead might have to us, are eternal and self-fulfilling."
We said: "It’s an ending that opens outward and upward, ambiguous enough to leave the audience reaching towards its mysteries rather than congratulating itself for getting to the end. It is precisely this aspect, seen also in the great masterpieces of Shakespeare, that enshrines this extraordinary cycle in the minds of all who experience it."