Great Performances

The Ring: Wagner's Genius, Through the Prism of Our Time

Monday, September 10, 2012
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Gotterdammerung at the Met
A scene from Wagner's Götterdämmerung with Jay Hunter Morris (on boat) as Siegfried, Wendy Bryn Harmer as Gutrune, Iain Paterson as Gunther, and Hans-Peter König as Hagen.
(Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Richard Wagner's masterpiece, The Ring of the Nibelung, comes to WGBH in a stunning production by Robert Lepage at the Metropolitan Opera.

The complete four-opera cycle is accompanied by a documentary that takes you behind the scenes of an unprecedented theatrical achievement.

In 1876, Richard Wagner realized one of the most improbable and ambitious dreams any artist could have: his 16-hour, four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen was performed for the first time at the purpose-built opera house in Bayreuth, Germany. There is no real precedent. Wagner wrote the story, the words, and the music. He envisioned the staging, and so unique was his vision that an instrument had to be invented to realize his ideal sound.

It only makes sense, then, that The Ring would inspire some of the most ambitious opera productions in every age since. Robert Lepage's production for the Metropolitan Opera may be the most ambitious yet. Its set rivals Bayreuth itself for audacity of vision, to the degree that the Met was required to reinforce its stage just to support it.

Join us for this unique production of The Ring, with acclaimed performances by Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Bryn Terfel as Wotan, and Eric Owens as Alberich.

Video Previews and Schedule (all on WGBH 2 except where noted):

Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold)
Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 9pm
Sunday, Sept. 16, at 12am

In the first opera of the cycle, Alberich steals gold from the Rhine River and forges a ring that gives its holder immense power. Wotan, king of the gods, steals it, but Alberich's curse on the ring sets off a series of events that leads eventually to Wotan's destruction.

With Starring Wendy Bryn Harmer (Freia), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Richard Croft (Loge), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (Wotan), Eric Owens (Alberich), Franz-Josef Selig (Fasolt), and Hans-Peter König (Fafner); conducted by James Levine

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 9pm

As Siegmund finds shelter in the strangely familiar arms of Sieglinde, Wotan’s daughter, Brünnhilde, intervenes on behalf of the hero. Brünnhilde thus forces her father to choose between his love for his favorite daughter and his duty to his wife, Fricka. Wotan takes away Brünnhilde’s godlike powers and puts her to sleep on a mountaintop, surrounded by a ring of magic fire that can only be crossed by the bravest of heroes.

With Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Bryn Terfel (Wotan), Hans-Peter König (Hunding); conducted by James Levine


Thursday, Sept. 13, at 9pm

The hero Siegfried grows up in the wilderness, puts together the broken pieces of the sword Nothung, and uses it to slay the fearsome dragon Fafner, taking the ring for himself. To fulfill his destiny, he must overcome Wotan, now disguised as the Wanderer and cross through the magic fire to awaken his true love, Brünnhilde.

With Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (The Wanderer), Eric Owens (Alberich); conducted by Fabio Luisi

Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
Friday, Sept. 14, at 9pm

Siegfried and Brünnhilde’s love is torn apart by the curse of the ring. A trio of scheming humans separates the two heroes in a desperate attempt to steal the ring for themselves. Their villainous plan fails, but they succeed in murdering Siegfried. Heartbroken, Brünnhilde takes the ring and leaps into the hero’s funeral pyre, causing a global cataclysm and the twilight of the gods.

With Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Wendy Bryn Harmer (Gutrune), Waltraud Meier (Waltraute), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Iain Paterson (Gunther), Eric Owens (Alberich), Hans-Peter König (Hagen); conducted by Fabio Luisi

Wagner's Dream
Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 2am
Thursday, Sept. 13, at 2:30am (WGBX 44)
Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3am
Monday, Sept. 17, at 3am

Film maker Susan Froemke traces the story of Robert Lepage's production of The Ring for the Metropolitan Opera, from General Manager Peter Gelb's request for the production, through the conception of the staging, to the execution of the massive machinery required for the cycle, in a story nearly as dramatic as The Ring itself.


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Don Pasquale at the Met

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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Anna Netrebko as Norina in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, on WGBH 2, Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 9pm.
Additional airings

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Wagner's Ring Cycle: Wagner's Dream

Friday, September 7, 2012
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The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
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