A once in a lifetime event…

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It’s finally here!

Tonight we open Mariinsky Theatre’s epic scale production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with the first in four operas, Das Rheingold.

Over the next five days this huge undertaking will see over 250 cast members, crew and orchestra, all of whom have flown over from St. Petersburg, take to the Hippodrome stage.

The huge sets for this rare event have taken over the theatre, even requiring a special marquee on the back scenic dock to hold an overflow of gigantic statues and relics used in the production.

Take a look at backstage shots as we prepare for this very special event…

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The Ring Cycle – Casting Announced…

Willard White

Willard White

This November, more than 250 artists will travel from St Petersburg to Birmingham, along with 10 trucks of scenery to present a once in a lifetime event; Wagner’s Ring Cycle performed by the highly acclaimed Mariinsky Opera.

For Birmingham’s first fully-staged Ring for several decades, Conductor Valery Gergiev has assembled a stellar cast including Willard White, Ekaterina Gubanova, Andreas Schager, Vitaly Kovalyov, Mikahil Petrenko and Mlada Khudoley for the fully staged production. For more information and tickets click here. 

As well as the epic production on the main stage, we also have a programme of events for audiences who are Wagner experts right down to first-timers titled Ring Side. This range of alternative events include a real life adventure game, The Fat Lady Sings, An Opera Cabaret with Kit Hesketh Harvey, Brunch with the Brunnhildes hosted by Radio 4 presenter Matthew d’Ancona with leading Wagnerian sopranos Susan Bullock and Catherine Foster plus much more. Find out more about Ring Side here.

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Gotterdammerung

Gotterdammerung

Previewing a theatrical coup for Birmingham…

This November, Mariinsky Theatre will bring Wagner’s Epic Ring Cycle to Birmingham Hippodrome in a once in a lifetime week of Opera performance. Birmingham Post’s Christopher Morley headed over to St Petersburg to preview this exciting event…

Christopher Morley

Christopher Morley

Setting off for St Petersburg wasn’t much fun, what with a 4am wake-up call at Birmingham Airport, and a chaotic transfer at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. But the Air France flight onwards was wonderful, with a real meal as well (!).

St Petersburg was just emerging from the winter, the frozen-over canals in this Venice of the North just beginning to show tiny cracks, the magnificent Neva river already half-thawed, with seabirds perched on the edge of the ice hopefully scavenging, and an optimistic fisherman casting his line down into the newly-released waters from the apex of the main bridge.

This is such an elegant city, very reminiscent of Stockholm (they are both Baltic-situated), and a mixture of Mother Russia (onion-topped churches) and sophisticated Europe. What I particularly liked about it was its organisation of the many pedestrian crossings, arrows telling us which side to follow, and with countdown displays telling us how long was left before we might be mowed down.

Gotterdammerung © N.Razina

Gotterdammerung © N.Razina

And so I arrived at the purpose of my trip, the campus which holds both the original Mariinsky Theatre (what a gold-leaf jewel of an opera-house that is!) and its spankingly new grandchild, not yet a year old, glowing with opalesque warmth (LED backlighting making us forget the darkness of a north Russian winter), and entertaining a glittering retinue of some of the most stylish dressers, both male and female, you could ever hope to see.

Not just adults; I was there to catch Siegfried and Gotterdammerung, the last two episodes of Wagner’s epic Ring tetralogy, and was amazed to see tiny little youngsters there, girls dressed in their party best, boys grave and decorous, all happy to sit through five hours of demanding music.

There were also teenaged courting couples (“wanna come to the Ring with me?”), bless their cultured hearts. The Russians have got their attitude to culture right; perhaps the further west one goes, the more philistine and materialistic becomes the valuation of the arts.

Valery Gergiev, the super-conductor who bestrides the world stage always approaches music with such dedicated humility and his Ring interpretation was a fascinating experience which audiences in Birmingham will share in November. The setting and costuming evoke mythological resonances of long ago, and the musical performances fly on the wings of Wagner’s genius.

All these thoughts were with me as I flew back. And this time the transfer at Charles de Gaulle was brilliant — as had, yet again, been the Air France inflight meal.

#BHthering

Mariinsky

Mariinsky Theatres