The Ring Cycle reaches its devastating finale in Götterdämmerung’s tale of treachery and destruction. All seems lost after love is betrayed by naked ambition and villains outsmart heroes. Siegfried is unwittingly ensnared in a plot by Gunther and Gutrune and their half-brother, who wants the ring for himself. Siegfried drinks a magic potion that makes him forget Brünnhilde and fall in love with Gutrune. Enraged by his infidelity, Brünnhilde joins forces with Hagen, who murders Siegfried. However, on discovering the truth about Siegfried’s betrayal, Brünnhilde takes drastic action. In her Immolation Scene, she redeems the world by leaping into Siegfried’s funeral pyre and returning the ring to its rightful owners. The Rhinemaidens joyfully reclaim their gold, drag Hagen into the depths and the old world order is swept away by flood and fire.
|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|
|First Norn||Tania Ferris|
|Second Norn||Jacqueline Dark|
|Third Norn||Anna-Louise Cole|
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 6 hours & 45 minutes including two intervals.
The first interval is 90 minutes and will start at approximately 6:10pm. The second interval is 35 minutes and will start at approximately 8:45pm.
Lockouts apply. Latecomers may not be admitted until interval.
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
On the Valkyries’ rock, three Norns spin the rope of Fate, recalling Wotan’s days of power and predicting Valhalla’s imminent fall. When the rope breaks they descend in terror to their mother, Erda, goddess of the earth. At dawn Siegfried and his bride, Brünnhilde, emerge from their cave. Though fearful that she may lose the hero, she sends him forth to deeds of valour. To remind her of his love, Siegfried gives Brünnhilde the magic ring of the Nibelung. Rapturously they bid farewell as Siegfried sets out down the Rhine.
In their castle on the Rhine, Gunther, king of the Gibichungs, and his sister Gutrune, both unwed, ask counsel of their half brother, Hagen. Plotting to secure the ring, Hagen advises Gunther to consolidate his power by marrying Brünnhilde: by means of a magic potion Siegfried can be induced to forget his bride and win her for Gunther in return for Gutrune’s hand. The hero’s horn announces his approach. Gunther welcomes him, and Gutrune seals his fate by offering him the potion. Hailing Brünnhilde, he drinks and forgets all, quickly succumbing to Gutrune’s beauty and agreeing to bring Brünnhilde to Gunther. After solemnising their bargain with an oath, the men depart. Hagen, keeping watch, gloats on the success of his plotting. On the Valkyries’ rock, Brünnhilde greets her sister Waltraute, who says that Wotan has warned the gods their doom is sealed unless Brünnhilde yields the ring to the Rhinemaidens. When she refuses, Waltraute rides off in despair. Dusk falls as Siegfried reappears disguised, via the Tarnhelm, as Gunther; wresting the ring from the terrified Brünnhilde, he claims her as Gunther’s bride.
At night, before the Gibichung hall, the Nibelung Alberich urges the sleeping Hagen (his son) to swear he will regain the ring. Siegfried returns, as dawn breaks, with cheerful greetings for Hagen and Gutrune: he has won Brünnhilde for Gunther, who follows shortly. Hagen summons the vassals to welcome the king and his bride. When Gunther leads in Brünnhilde, she sees Siegfried and recoils; spying the ring on his finger, she decries his treachery and proclaims Siegfried her true husband. The hero, still under the potion’s spell, vows upon Hagen’s spear that he has never wronged her. Brünnhilde swears he lies, but Siegfried dismisses her charge and leaves with Gutrune. The dazed Brünnhilde, bent on revenge, reveals to Hagen the hero’s one vulnerable spot: a blade in the back will kill him. Taunted by Brünnhilde and lured by Hagen’s description of the ring’s power, Gunther joins the murder plot as Siegfried’s wedding procession passes by.
Near a mossy bank the three Rhinemaidens bewail their lost treasure. Soon Siegfried approaches, separated from his hunting party. The maidens plead for the ring, but he ignores both their entreaties and warnings. When the party arrives, Siegfried at Hagen’s urging describes his boyhood with Mime, his slaying of the dragon Fafner and finally — after Hagen gives him a potion to restore his memory – his wooing of Brünnhilde. Pretending indignation, Hagen plunges a spear into the hero’s back and stalks off. Hailing Brünnhilde with his last breath, Siegfried dies.
At the Gibichung hall, Gutrune nervously awaits her bridegroom’s return. Hagen tells her Siegfried has been killed by a wild boar, but when his body is carried in she accuses Gunther of murder. Hagen admits the crime. Quarrelling over the ring, Gunther is killed by Hagen, who falls back in fear when the dead Siegfried raises his hand. Brünnhilde, entering, orders a funeral pyre built for Siegfried. Musing on the gods’ responsibility for his death, she takes the ring and promises it to the Rhinemaidens. Placing it on her finger, she throws a torch onto the pyre and throws herself into the flames. As the river overflows its banks and the Gibichung hall is consumed, the Rhinemaidens, dragging Hagen to a watery grave, regain their gold. Flames engulf Valhalla, leaving a human world redeemed by love.
"Pietari Inkinen steers his excellent Melbourne Ring Orchestra home."
"Lise Lindstrom’s Brünnhilde, her first full Cycle in the role, should install her as one of the greats."
"Opera Australia ended its first of three cycles of Wagner's Ring on Monday with a richly deserved standing ovation."
"It’s both a life changing and a life-affirming experience."
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.