Breaking: Wagner’s Ring is leaving London

Breaking: Wagner’s Ring is leaving London

While state-funded opera companies are being strangled by Arts Cancel England, the private sector is thriving in country houses across the south of England.

Today, the irrepressible Wasfi Kani announced a Ring cycle to be stage in the heart of the Surrey stockbroker belt. It’s an astonishing venture for a cheeky startup and something of a game-changer.

Under ACE funding rules, no state-supported Ring cycle ever left the capital. Eksewhere, an Opera North staging had a limited tour a few years back.

Here’s the press release:

Buckle up Wagnerians! The Ring Cycle is coming to Surrey

Starting in 2026, Grange Park Opera undertakes the mammoth feat of staging the complete Ring Cycle across four successive years.

Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen (usually known simply as The Ring Cycle) starts in 2026 with Das Rheingold, followed by Die Walküre (2027), Siegfried (2028) and finishing with Götterdämmerung in 2029.

The Ring Cycle makes unprecedented theatrical demands. A magic helmet makes people disappear; a man is transformed into a snake; quickly followed by a toad. A ring of fire encircles a rock. In the end the Rhine overflows its banks, carrying with it both gods and humans, cleansing the world. The Ring Cycle is a cosmic undertaking, the supreme test for any opera company. Grange Park Opera is stepping up.

The remarkable acoustic of the five-tier opera house in Surrey has proved a perfect fit Wagner’s sound world. The audience enjoys the intimacy of a compact theatre, whilst enveloped in the vibrations emerging from the 70-seat pit.

The Ring Cycle will be directed and designed by Charles Edwards, acclaimed last summer for his Tristan & Isolde. Conductors for the cycle will include Anthony Negus, one of the leading Wagnerian exponents of our day.

Das Rheingold will open with David Stout as the dwarf Alberich, stealing the gold to rule the world. James Rutherford will portray Wotan, ruler of the Gods, married to the Fricka of Christine Rice. Her sister Freia is played by Rachel Nicholls, our Brünnhilde for the remainder of the cycle. This outstanding UK cast is completed by Matthew Rose and David Shipley as the giants, outsmarted by Nicky Spence as Loge, the god of Fire.

Charles Edwards says this is a dream come true “Around 1980 I would visit my local library to borrow LPs: G&S, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rigoletto … and then I heard scenes from The Ring. What was this? I became obsessed with Wagner and for 40 years, I’ve never stopped listening to it, thinking about it, dreaming up productions, imagining casts. I’ve listened to every great conductor plying his Wagnerian trade.

‘I don’t think of The Ring as a tragic, upsetting, world-ending misery. So much of it is funny. Wagner had a (usually ironic) sense of humour. He was the greatest, revolutionary real theatre-maker and he loved the idea of smashing things up to re-make them.

‘Aged 16 I won a school essay prize (writing about Wagner of course). The prize was money to travel. With my mother I travelled from Musselburgh to visit Bayreuth. We didn’t see any operas, but I saw models of the original designs. Wagner imagined The Ring in 1876 in those terms, and their beauty and mystery inspire me as was seen in my Tristan last year.”

‘Later that year I got the train down to London alone to see Das Rheingold (standing ticket) at ROH – my first visit there. I returned to Edinburgh on the milk train.”

Founder of Grange Park Opera, Wasfi Kani CBE said, “We’ve been trying out Wagner for some time now – in our acoustic, in our pit and in audience reaction. Emboldened by the success of Die Walküre (2017), Flying Dutchman (2022) and Tristan & Isolde (2023), we took a deep collective breath and decided the time is ripe for the biggest challenge of all: his Ring Cycle. It is a hugely exciting development that we hope will move us to the next level of recognition. So, buckle up, Wagnerians!”

For more information visit www.grangeparkopera.co.uk and follow the social media channels for regular news updates: X (formally Twitter) @grangeparkopera / Facebook grangeparkoperasurrey / Instagram @grangeparkopera

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