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Great Performances At The Met: Wagner’s Ring Cycle

Airs Sundays, September 23 - October 14, 2012 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Stephanie Blythe as Fricka and Bryn Terfel as Wotan in Wagner's "Das Rheingold" in Robert Lepage's production.

Robert Lepage’s acclaimed new production of Wagner’s "Der Ring des Nibelungen" will air on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET. The operas include "Das Rheingold" (Sept. 23rd), "Die Walküre" (Sept. 30th), "Siegfried" (October 7th) and "Götterdämmerung" (October 14th).

This is the third time a complete "Ring" cycle has been aired on PBS. In 1983, GREAT PERFORMANCES aired Patrice Chereau’s production of the "Ring" conducted by Pierre Boulez from the Bayreuth Festival, and in 1990, LIVE FROM THE MET (the precursor of GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET) presented Otto Schenk’s Metropolitan Opera production, conducted by James Levine.

The Story Of The Ring

Opera synopses of "Das Rheingold," "Die Walküre," "Siegfried," and "Götterdämmerung"—the four epic operas that make up Richard Wagner’s "Ring" cycle. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera.

"Das Rheingold" airs Sunday, Sept. 23 at 12 p.m. - In the first opera in the "Ring" cycle, the gods of Valhalla clash with underworld dwarves and brawny giants, with disastrous consequences. The evil Alberich steals gold from the Rhine and uses it to forge a ring of unimaginable power.

Wotan, the king of the gods, uses magic to steal the ring, but Alberich places a curse that guarantees misery for whoever wears it. Wotan's unwillingness to part with the ring leads him to break a contract with the giants who have built the gods' new castle in the sky, setting in motion a chain of events that will end in his own destruction.

Conducted by James Levine. 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), Hans-Peter König (Fafner).

"Die Walküre" airs Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 at 12 p.m. - The mysterious hero Siegmund finds shelter in the strangely familiar arms of a lonely woman named Sieglinde. Their forbidden love leads Wotan’s daughter, the warrior maiden Brünnhilde, to defy morality and intervene on behalf of the hero.

Brünnhilde’s transgression forces her father to choose between his love for his favorite daughter and his duty to his wife, the formidable goddess Fricka. Overcome with grief, Wotan takes away Brünnhilde’s godlike powers and puts her to sleep on a mountaintop, surrounded by a ring of magic fire that can be crossed only by the bravest of heroes.

James Levine conducts, with Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Bryn Terfel (Wotan) and Hans-Peter König (Hunding).

"Siegfried" airs Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 at 12 p.m. - The young hero Siegfried grows up in the wilderness, raised by Alberich’s conniving brother Mime. He puts together the broken pieces of the sword Nothung, uses it to slay the fearsome dragon Fafner and takes the ring for himself.

Jay Hunter Morris as the title character in the Met's new production of Wagner's "Siegfried."
Enlarge this image

Above: Jay Hunter Morris as the title character in the Met's new production of Wagner's "Siegfried."

Wagner's Dream

The stakes could not be higher as visionary director Robert Lepage, several of the world’s greatest operatic artists and the Metropolitan Opera tackle Wagner’s "Ring" cycle. An intimate look at the enormous theatrical and musical challenges of staging opera’s most monumental work, Susan Froemke’s documentary chronicles the quest to fulfill Wagner’s dream of a perfect "Ring." It aired on Friday, Sept. 21 on KPBS TV. View the trailer below.

To fulfill his destiny, he must overcome one more opponent — Wotan, now disguised as the Wanderer, who knows the world of the gods is coming to an end — and cross through the magic fire to awaken his true love, Brünnhilde.

Fabio Luisi conducts, with Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (The Wanderer) and Eric Owens (Alberich).

"Götterdämmerung" airs Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 at 12 p.m. - 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.

Fabio Luisi conducts, with Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Wendy Bryn Harmer (Gutrune), Waltraud Meier (Waltraute), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Iain Paterson (Gunther), Eric Owens (Alberich) and Hans-Peter König (Hagen).

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Video

Preview: Great Performances At The Met: Wagner's Ring Cycle

Above: Robert Lepage’s acclaimed new production of Wagner’s "Der Ring des Nibelungen" will air on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET. The operas include "Das Rheingold," "Die Walküre," "Siegfried" and "Götterdämmerung."

Video

Trailer: Wagner’s Dream

Above: The stakes could not be higher as visionary director Robert Lepage, several of the world’s greatest operatic artists and the Metropolitan Opera tackle Wagner’s "Ring" cycle. An intimate look at the enormous theatrical and musical challenges of staging opera’s most monumental work, Susan Froemke’s documentary chronicles the quest to fulfill Wagner’s dream of a perfect "Ring."

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