Nicknamed the ‘Olympics of opera’, comprising 15+ hours of music across four evenings, the world’s first digital Ring Cycle opens Dec 1 in Brisbane.
After two pandemic postponements, QLD resident, and internationally successful tenor, Rosario La Spina, will be performing the principal role of Siegmund and he couldn’t be more thrilled.
“When I found out that Opera Australia was doing the Ring Cycle through my agent, and that the management was interested in me for the role of Siegmund, I was incredibly excited because I have never been involved in something so big and also to be front and centre in such a monumental work,” says La Spina.
A double blessing for La Spina who says to be doing his first Ring Cycle in his hometown is something he never believed would be possible and he’s incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
Wagner’s Ring Cycle is essentially the story of the gods for people who have no gods to believe in. La Spina explains that the character of Siegmund is a true hero ,he is not a God and he is human, he is shown his destiny by his love for Sieglinde (who also happens to be his twin sister separated at birth). He forwards the story by impregnating Sieglinde who then gives birth to Siegfried. He is a protector and symbolises good but his future is dark.
“As almost all of the Ring Cycle deals with Gods and Demi Gods the story of Siegmund and Sieglinde is one of pure love and incredible excitement of Sieglinde finally meeting someone who she knows deep inside that can change her future,” says La Spina. “I’m sure many people can relate with these types of feelings as they’re part of our human nature.”
The show will use the latest in video content creation techniques, audio-visual and lighting equipment on 23 towering, choreographed LED screens and digital elements woven into costumes to create an immersive awe-inspiring world, closer to The Lord of the Rings films than a traditional theatre production. It will be a Ring Cycle like no one has ever seen before!
“The audience should expect to be dazzled by the sheer brilliance and grandeur of what they will see on stage but also the intimacy that has been created by our wonderful production team,” says La Spina. “The quality of performing from both everyone on stage and playing in the orchestra is of world class.”
Wagner created special instruments, a theatre and music techniques for the Ring Cycle and it has been hugely influential on much of the art that has followed, including music and movies.
This adaptation is the first Ring Cycle directed by a Chinese director and production designer. Chen Shi-Zheng weaves Chinese mythology into Wagner’s Norse mythology and draws inspiration from all over the world: including a bonsai tree he saw in eastern China and Balinese funeral rituals.
The production also features an international creative team comprising a German-based digital designers, a Hong Kong-born Broadway costume designer, a French conductor, and a Peruvian choreographer.
“One very important thing that the traditionalists can expect from our wonderful director is that even though there’s some incredibly technical and modern things happening on stage nothing gets in the way of telling the story. Which to me is fundamental,” says La Spina.
A marathon production, no doubt, however, La Spina tries not to think of the enormity of it conceding that if he does it could be overwhelming especially considering that he’s on stage without a break for over one hour which, he says, has its difficulties. “A very famous Wagnerian bass baritone told me when I was a student to just take it one page at a time, and it’s incredible how those words resonate with me while I’m on stage.”
Sounding like a logistical nightmare, the show boasts 350 cast and crew members including world-renowned Ring specialist performers, Australians making their biggest principal role debuts, local ensemble talent of Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Dancenorth, Opera Queensland and Opera Australia Chorus.
“With so many people involved in this huge production you just realise that every single person working on it from front of house, on stage, backstage and all the music staff are just as important as each other, it’s a massive team effort,” says La Spina.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for audiences, the show is currently the largest production in Australia and is drawing audiences from across the country and the globe.
Says La Spina, “I would ask the audience to come and see this amazing production because in my opinion it is a total masterpiece and what they will see on stage they won’t forget, and I believe will be incredibly moved by it.”
December 1 – 21