The Wagner Journal

Wagner and the Victorians: Michael Ewans reports on the new ‘Ring’ in Melbourne

Wagner and the Victorians: Michael Ewans reports on the new ‘Ring’ in Melbourne

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Review of Der Ring des Nibelungen, directed Armfield, conducted Inkinen, Melbourne, 2013.

March 2014, Volume 8, Number 1, 63–70.

This was, almost incredibly, Melbourne’s first Ring since Thomas Quinlan’s touring production one hundred years ago, and the three cycles were sold out. Like all good Rings, it began with drama offstage. Local conductor-designate Richard Mills resigned in June, citing a ‘lack of chemistry’ with the singers. He had been a surprising choice in the first place, since his only previous experience of Wagner was conducting one Tristan with a youth orchestra in Brisbane (2005); he may well have found difficulty in working with established Wagnerian singers such as Susan Bullock (Brünnhilde), Terje Stensvold (singing what was rumoured to be his last Wotan) and Stefan Vinke (Siegfried). At such short notice Opera Australia was lucky to be able to secure the young Pietari Inkinen, who had at least conducted the first two dramas of the Ring before – earlier in 2013, at the Teatro Massimo, Palermo, in a cycle which was aborted for financial reasons after Die Walküre. He presided over the ‘Melbourne Ring Orchestra’, which consisted of Orchestra Victoria, very considerably augmented by players from Opera Australia’s Sydney orchestra and elsewhere.

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