The Ring of Nibelung Hit Shanghai

The Ring of Nibelung, widely regarded as Richard Wagner greatest opera, staged its first cycle at the Shanghai Grand Theatre between 16th and 19th September.

Curtain Call

Featuring 16 hours of performance, the work of almost 400 artists and enjoying an unprecedented position in the history of world classical music, The Ring of Nibelung, widely regarded as Richard Wagner greatest opera, staged its first cycle at the Shanghai Grand Theatre between 16th and 19th September.

The Beijing Music Journal, using the headline "Experience it once and you can brag for a lifetime", reported The Ring as a grand occasion for Shanghai theatre. This type of praise is no exaggeration, because Wagner manages to bestow a special depth and richness on the characters, as well as exploring epic and thought provoking events, from the theft of the gold from the bottom of the Rhine River to the burning down of Valhalla, glowing beautifully as it is destroyed. This truly is a tremendous work of opera, exhibiting a multitude of diverse themes and bringing a highly exhilarating experience to the audience.

The Cologne Opera House on Shanghai Stage

The production exhibits a consistent authenticity and attention to detail; for example the stage is adapted to accommodate the flames into which the hero casts the ring. Real guns are used in the production, with staff from the Ministry of Public Security employed to guarantee safety. The production also features two German Shepherd dogs, playing the roles of a guard dog and a search and rescue dog. The animal trainer even plays a role in the production, to guarantee the comfort of the dogs on stage. Their appearance on the Shanghai stage is truly unique. The Cologne production combines three distinct dance styles of different eras, resulting in a simple yet genuinely moving stage experience.

The Shanghai Grand Theatre's artistic Director Qian Shijin said "I think The Ring is a very important cultural event for Shanghai, with a wider significance than just the staging of one western opera." It took Wagner 26 years to complete the work, and it seems to be imbued with a special power and significance. From the fairy tale context to the strong moral themes, it explores many aspects of human life, society, philosophy and ethics. To fully appreciate The Ring requires a commitment of 16 hours over four evenings, an experience never seen before on the Shanghai stage, and one which insiders have suggested may not be seen again for 20 or 30 years. At the interval China's celebrated tenor Warren Mok said excitedly 'The bass and baritone singers are faultless, perfect! Also I really enjoyed the director's modern interpretation'.

On the 18th September, the third of the four day cycle, the show ran from dusk until late in the night, testing the spectator's concentration, patience and physical strength. However as the spectators finally left the theatre at close to midnight, many said 'it is a rare opportunity to see The Ring, a very worthwhile experience!' Statistics suggest that almost half of the audience viewed the 4 nights of The Ring in its entirety.

According to the venue, the majority of those who bought tickets were "from Beijing and Hong Kong, moreover because the production was in four parts it seems that they were opera fanatics".

The SMG Arts Television Channel filmed The Ring's second round of performances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre to be shown on high definition television, and also broadcast the final night's performance of 'The Twilight of the Gods' live at 5pm on the 24th of September. In keeping with the spirit of the 2010 World Expo, the four performances will also be broadcast at the German embassy.