‘Ring’ saga of greed to make The City richer 

Richard Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelung” is the Mount Everest of musical spectacles. It’s 16 hours of glorious music in four operas spread through a week and performed by hundreds of soloists, chorus, orchestra musicians and production personnel.

San Francisco Opera announced Tuesday that it will produce three full “Ring” cycles in June and July 2011 — an event sure to attract opera fans from all around the world.

With 42,000 seats and standing-room spaces in the War Memorial Opera House to be occupied for the 12 performances, ticket sales alone will bring in at least $5 million, roughly the cost of the production.

Add money spent on hotels, restaurants, etc., and the prospect should make Alberich lick his lips.

He’s the mythological dwarf king (to be sung by Gordon Hawkins) renouncing love for the sake of acquiring untold riches and power (through the magical ring) who gave the cycle its name (“Nibelung” translates to “dwarf”) and story engine.

With Wotan (Mark Delavan), Brünnhilde (Nina Stemme), gods, giants, heroes such as Siegmund (Brandon Jovanovich) and Siegfried (Ian Storey), the “Ride of the Walkyries” and “Magic Fire” — all the Wagner you already know from commercials and more — this will be a really big show.

Part of the current “American Ring” production by Francesca Zambello is familiar to local audiences — “Rhinegold” was seen in The City two seasons ago.

“The Valkyrie” is due next summer, then the concluding “Siegfried” and “The Twilight of the Gods” will be added in 2011.

Opera General Director David Gockley and Donald Runnicles, former music director, drew up plans for the production four years ago, but the economy hit bottom and “Ring” projects elsewhere were canceled or scaled down.

Yet, it’s going to happen here, with Runnicles conducting and Gockley searching for a magic ring of his own to pay for it all.


If you go

The Ring of the Nibelung

Presented by the San Francisco Opera

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

When: June 14-19 and 21-26 and June 28-July 3, 2011

Tickets: $120 to $2,800 (complete cycle); $15 to $310 (approximate for individual operas; prices yet to be set)

Contact: (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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