The Ring Cycle opens with this magnificent prelude.
In the space of a single, majestic, two-and-a-half hour musical span, Wagner immerses you in a mysterious, primordial world of scheming gods, misshapen dwarfs, alluring maidens and fearsome monsters.
The struggle for power and wealth in Das Rheingold irrevocably alters the order of the universe and determines the course of the entire saga.
Spurned by the three beautiful Rhinemaidens, the Nibelung dwarf Alberich steals their gold and forges it into a ring that gives unlimited power to its wearer.
When Wotan, the lord of the gods, steals the ring, Alberich curses it and all who wear it.
|Associate Directors||Kate Champion|
|Set Designer||Robert Cousins|
|Costume Designer||Alice Babidge|
|Lighting Designer||Damien Cooper|
|Associate Conductor||Anthony Legge|
|Assistant Conductor||Tahu Matheson|
|Assistant Directors||Greg Eldridge|
|Assistant to the lighting designer||James Lipari|
|Movement revival||Frankie Snowdon|
The Ring Cycle requires huge orchestral forces. The Melbourne Ring Orchestra will unite 135 musicians. Opera Australia's Melbourne performance partner, Orchestra Victoria, will be joined by outstanding musicians from national and international orchestras, including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 30 minutes without interval.
Lockouts apply. Latecomers may not be admitted.
Performed in German with English surtitles.
Melbourne Ring Cycle Principal Supporters
Maureen Wheeler AO and Tony Wheeler AO
Melbourne Ring Cycle Major Supporters
Hans and Petra Henkell
Opera Australia Government Partners
Opera Australia Principal Partner
Wotan, ruler of the gods, visited the World Ash Tree, whose roots were fed by the spring of eternal knowledge and whose branches held together the universe: the upper realms of the gods; Riesenheim, home of the giants; the earth, with the Rhine and his daughters; and Nibelheim, a subterranean realm inhabited by the Nibelungs. Wotan drank from the spring, forfeiting an eye in return for wisdom. From the tree he tore a branch and shaped it into a spear. Weakened by the wound, the tree eventually withers and the waters of the spring dwindle and fail. On the shaft of his spear Wotan recorded the binding treaties by which he became ruler of the world.
In the depths of the Rhine, the three Rhinemaidens guard the Rhinegold, a treasure of immeasurable value. The Nibelung dwarf Alberich is dazzled first by the maidens and then by their treasure. Wellgunde reveals that whoever can forge the gold into a ring will gain mastery over the world. The required magic can be attained only by renouncing love. Alberich curses love vehemently and steals the gold.
Wotan, lord of the gods, dreams of eternal power and a fortress for the gods. He is reproached by his wife Fricka: he has promised to give Freia, keeper of the golden apples of eternal youth, to the giant brothers Fasolt and Fafner in return for their building the fortress. The giants demand their reward with Fafner proposing to abduct Freia by force. Loge, the god of fire, suggests an alternative payment: the mighty ring Alberich has forged from the Rhinegold. The giants agree to take Freia away as a provisional hostage until evening, and then hand her over in exchange for the gold. Wotan and Loge leave for the Nibelungs’ underground home, Nibelheim, to take possession of the gold.
Here they meet Alberich’s brother Mime, who has forged the Tarnhelm, a magic helmet that transforms its wearer into any shape. Alberich takes the helmet by force and uses his power to enslave the Nibelungs. Alberich appears and mocks the gods and dons the Tarnhelm to turn himself into a giant serpent, then into a toad, which the gods capture. Dragged to the surface, the dwarf is forced to summon the Nibelungs to heap up the gold. Wotan wrests the ring from his finger. Shattered, Alberich curses the ring: no one who possesses the ring will escape death.
The giants return and agree to accept the gold but Wotan refuses to part with the ring. Erda, goddess of the earth, appears and warns him that possession of it will bring about the end of the gods. Wotan reluctantly gives the ring to the giants and Freia is freed. The gods witness the first effects of the cursed ring as it claims its first victim – the killing of Fasolt by Fafner in the ensuing struggle over the treasure. The voices of the Rhinemaidens are heard, lamenting the loss of their gold as the gods walk toward their new home, Valhalla.
"Ingenious staging and masterful music set scene for Opera Australia epic."
" Armfield’s vision of the waters of the Rhine as represented by hundreds of lazy bathers – like a lost, full colour Max Dupain photograph come to life – was almost overwhelming."
"This was an excellent start to the cycle."
"[Das Rheingold] has been a big win"
"Nothing can be taken away from the compelling and distinctive characterisation by the strong cast."
Choose from a wide selection of five, four or three-star hotels, suite-hotels and self-contained apartments in the Melbourne CBD and Southbank area. 8 nights from AUD$1,299 per person, twin-share, including daily breakfast (where available), special welcome reception, pre-performance talks, A Day with the Ring symposium and a priority booking service for sightseeing tours.
For further information visit renaissancetours.com.au or telephone toll-free 1300 727 095 (within Australia) or 0800 403 621 (from New Zealand).
See all available travel package partners.
Ein Königsmahl (A King's Feast)
Hugh Williamson Room
Four-course desgustion with matched wines
$250* per guest, per meal
Speisen unter den Sternen (Dine Amongst the Stars)
Three-course meal with matched wines
$140* per guest, per meal
Siegfried’s Picknick Korb (Siegfried's Hamper)
Around Arts Centre Melbourne
A hamper of savoury and sweet food
$45* per hamper for one
$80* per hamper for two
More to eat and drink
Arts Centre Melbourne has a range of eateries that will be open during The Ring Cycle. Find out more.
*a transaction fee of $7.95 applies
'Richard Wagner and the Valhalla state of mind' by Roger Scruton
Recommended by Maureen Wheeler and Lyndon Terracini, this article by philosopher Roger Scruton discusses why The Ring Cycle is so important: it's "a story of the gods for people who have no gods to believe in."
'The Perfect Wagnerite' by George Bernard Shaw
This controversial and entertaining Marxist reading of the Ring by playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw remains compelling reading, even if you don't agree with him.
'The Ring and the Rings' by Alex Ross
One ring to rule them all: Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) explores the links between Wagner, Tolkien, and Peter Jackson.
'Secret Passage: Decoding ten bars in Wagner's Ring' by Alex Ross
Alex Ross takes a look at one of the hundreds of tiny moments that makes up The Ring Cycle, "it is an affair of sidelong glances, compassionate shrugs, paralyzing hesitations, callous joys, comforting sorrows, and, beneath it all, endless yearning."
Interviews with the cast and creative team behind The Melbourne Ring Cycle
Deborah Humble talks to the people on stage and behind the scenes.
'With This Ring': An interview with Assistant Director, Roger Press
Shamistha de Soysa speaks to Roger Press about his experience working on The Melbourne Ring Cycle.
Podcast: The Ring and I
Listen to this excellent special episode of the wonderful Radiolab podcast about how and why The Ring Cycle has permeated our culture.