An operatic tale of epic proportions. Starting 24 March, the Melbourne Opera will be hosting their month-long Ring Cycle Cultural Festival in Bendigo.
Feature image by Robin Halls.
The Masterpiece of Melbourne
From 24 March to 30 April, head to Bendigo, Victoria to experience The Ring cycle opera presented as the Ring Cycle Cultural Festival. The 15-hour opera will be staged in three cycles and accompanied by many galas and musical events over the six weeks. Cycle One is 24 March-2 April, Cycle Two is 7-16 April and Cycle Three is 21-30 April, with the opera performed across two weekends per cycle. There are also walking tours available during each Cycle for more familiarity with the area beyond the cultural experience of the opera cycle.
Completed in 1874, Der Ring des Nibelungen, or The Ring cycle, includes four individual operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Richard Wagner’s epic music drama is based on heroic German and Norse stories and follows the journey of a cursed ring as its existence tests the relationships amongst gods and mortals. Stolen from a dwarf named Alberich by Rhinemaidens in Das Rheingold, this ring is said to give its wearer ultimate power. The King of the Gods, Wotan, spends the Cycle trying to get the ring back. Wotan’s grandson, Siegfried, also features in the Cycle and grows into his purpose while undergoing many heroic endeavours during Siegfried in particular, the opera aptly named after him.
Notable Sites and Stars
Performed in Ulumbarra Theatre with a 90-piece orchestra, the opera will be conducted by international Wagner specialists Anthony Negus and David Kram AM with accompanying events in many unique locations around Bendigo. Negus and Kram have decorated global careers tackling this opera, and the Melbourne Opera began their undertaking of the opera in 2021, performing Das Rheingold and Die Walküre with resounding success as well. This $5 million festival is a large-scale feat that spotlights many performers who have had roles in previous Melbourne Opera Ring productions, including Warwick Fyfe returning as Wotan. The opera will be performed in German with English screen captioning on stage, known as supertitles.
One performer who is making an appearance is none other than two-time GRAMMY Award-winning Wagnerian tenor, Siegfried Jerusalem. Jerusalem will participate during Cycles two and three, engaging in the “In Conversation” event on the 15 and 29 of April as well as performing a Masterclass on the 22nd.
There are many events throughout each week beyond just the opera at Ulumbarra Theatre, like the “In Conversation” events and Masterclasses. Along with those are various other presentations on Wagner’s life and career, including his predecessors and musical influences. The other festival venues include the Bendigo Bank Theatre, the Capital Theatre Building, Langley Estate, the Engine Room, Latrobe Art Institute, and even Deborah Gold Mine where participants can don a miners helmet and descend 60 metres underground by lift to hear more of Wagner’s iconic compositions.
With no government funding and an all-Australian cast and crew, this impressive undertaking is an event opera-lovers and opera-newcomers won’t want to miss. Learn more and buy a full cycle ticket or single event tickets here.
More on Melbourne and Bendigo
The Melbourne Opera is a not-for-profit arts organisation that was formed in 2002. 21 years and over 60 operatic productions later, it is one of Australia’s leading professional opera companies. The Melbourne Opera is heavily involved in community engagement and professional status and development that makes the organisation stand out. Alongside that, distinguished and committed arts patrons make productions like this possible. This festival is also supported by Henkell Brothers’ generous sponsorship, Lady Potter AC and the Robert Salzer Foundation.
To get to the Ring Cycle Cultural Festival in Bendigo, fly into Melbourne and then take the express V/Line train service from Southern Cross Station to get to Bendigo in about 90 minutes.
Check out other experiences in Bendigo and around Victoria here.