Opera North bring Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle to the screen

Explore Opera North's Ring Cycle

15 hours of unforgettable music and passion

The Ring begins with music that evokes the very dawn of time. Set in a world populated by dwarfs and giants, gods and river-maidens, Wagner’s epic masterpiece The Ring Cycle is a cycle of four operas based on ancient Nordic and German legends with a compelling cast of heroes and features some of the most famous and influential music ever written.

Opera North’s version is conducted by Richard Farnes, a leading interpreter of Wagner’s epic scores and is presented as a dramatic performance for the concert hall. The production dispenses with set, costumes and props, choosing only to enhance Wagner’s music with light and video design.

And now, a complete film version of Opera North’s highly successful production has been released for online streaming to a global audience.

The film of Das Rheingold, the first opera in the cycle, was broadcast on UK television by BBC Four at 7.00pm on 12 February 2017, and the four complete operas were made available via the BBC iPlayer and BBC Arts from the same date.

The films of the four complete Ring cycle operas — Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung — are currently available to stream online for free, in partnership with BBC Arts. They can be watched in a 10-episode format at www.bbc.co.uk/ringcycle with a host of background information available here on the Opera North site.

A radically stripped-back version of the Ring, Opera North’s production has been highly praised for both the exceptional quality of its performance and the accessibility and intelligence of its staging.

Live performances were filmed by Opera North over a week at Leeds Town Hall in May 2016, under the direction of Peter Mumford, the Ring’s lighting and projection designer and concert staging director.

Two singers from Northern Opera perform a scene from The Ring Cycle
Kelly Cae Hogan as Brünnhilde and Michael Weinius as Siegmund. Photo credit: Clive Barda

Opera North’s Ring is one of the most critically regarded opera projects of recent years and has been highly praised for both high standards in musical performance and for its accessibility to new audiences.

In addition to the four complete films of the Ring operas, Opera North has also released a full Ring cycle ‘conductor cam’ online. This fantastic fifteen-hour film is made up of a single shot of Richard Farnes conducting the entire cycle, one of the longest and most complex pieces of music ever written, which places incredible demands on its conductor.

Richard Farnes conducts Opera North's Ring Cycle
Richard Farnes conducts Opera North’s Ring Cycle

Creating an entirely new sound-world from vast orchestral forces, reshaping the development of classical music, the Ring’s cultural impact remains immeasurable, as Wagner’s innovative use of motifs and themes associated with characters continues to be a signal influence on blockbuster film and television scores.

The productions have picked up a number of awards, including:

  • RPS Opera and Music Theatre Award
  • 2017 Sky Arts Opera Award

Last year, The Ring Cycle was broadcast live from the Sage, Gateshead on Radio 3 on the following dates…

Das Rheingold – 5 July

Die Walküre – 6 July

Siegrfried – 8 July

Götterdämmerung – 10 July