Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung Returns to the War Memorial Opera House, June 12-July 1, 2018

Release date: 1/31/2018    


Public Enrichment Events for Ring Festival Include Lectures, Symposia, Film Screenings and Musical Programs

Ring Festival ancillary activities.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera presents Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) in three complete cycles, each presented over the course of one week as the composer originally intended, from June 12 through July 1 at the War Memorial Opera House. Encompassing four operas—Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—and more than 17 hours, the story and music of Wagner’s Ring are the acme of the operatic artform and one of the most ambitious works of music, theater and stagecraft ever created. In anticipation of the performances, San Francisco Opera today announced a schedule for its Ring Festival events designed to provide the public, from first-timers to experienced Ring-goers, with enriching activities including lectures, symposia, film screenings, musical programs, public discussions and a Ring Community Day for families.

An internationally-renowned cast of Wagnerian artists has been assembled for San Francisco Opera’s performances of Wagner’s epic, including Evelyn Herlitzius (Brünnhilde), Greer Grimsley (Wotan), Daniel Brenna (Siegfried), Karita Mattila (Sieglinde), Brandon Jovanovich (Froh and Siegmund), Falk Struckmann (Alberich), Jamie Barton (Fricka) and many others, directed by Francesca Zambello and under the baton of esteemed Wagnerian conductor Donald Runnicles. All artists will perform their roles in each of the three cycles, which are scheduled for June 12–17, June 19–24 and June 26–July 1, 2018. Ring cycle performances take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Ring Festival events begin in February and extend through June with events taking place during each cycle on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock said: “If there is one artistic undertaking that demonstrates the complete mettle of an opera company it is Wagner’s Ring. San Francisco Opera has a storied history with this life-affirming work, and it is a great privilege for all of us to bring it to the stage once again. It will take us all on a powerful journey, deep into the very understanding of what it means to be human. There are no bounds to how far one can explore this monumental artwork and we are so happy to be presenting a number of engaging Ring Festival events around the cycles. This is a unique opportunity to get immersed in one unbelievably powerful event. I can’t wait!”


In partnership with Bay Area cultural institutions, San Francisco Opera has curated a Ring Festival offering a multitude of public events that explore Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen saga and offer deeper engagement with the tetralogy’s themes, characters and musical storytelling. Ring Festival activities leading up to the June performances include an April 26 lecture and exhibition tour in the popular Thursday Nights at the Asian Art Museum series; a May 21 public discussion about the work at the Commonwealth Club featuring director Francesca Zambello and special guests; and a Ring Community Day on June 9 offering interactive Ring-related activities for all ages.

Festival events held at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera punctuate each of the three Ring cycle weeks. On Tuesdays, before each evening performance of Das Rheingold, a three-part Ring 101 overview will be presented. Ring 101 begins with an introduction to Wagner’s masterpiece by San Francisco Opera Dramaturg Dr. Clifford “Kip” Cranna, followed by a presentation from the San Francisco Opera Archives about the history of the Ring in San Francisco from 1900–2018 and concludes with interviews with guest artists from the Ring production.

Each Thursday, between performances of Die Walküre and Siegfried, activities are available throughout the day beginning with a Ring Symposium featuring panel discussions with artists and other Ring colleagues. Midday, the 2000 film Sing Faster–The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle by Academy Award-nominated director Jon Else will be screened, followed by a hosted Q&A. In the evenings, the San Francisco Opera Chorus will be featured in Wagner Chorus Concerts showcasing the choral music from the works of Richard Wagner.

On each Saturday, between performances of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, San Francisco Opera in collaboration with the Wagner Society of Northern California will present a series of Ring Forums. These day-long events offer in-depth explorations of the Ring by distinguished Wagner experts. Each Ring Forum will feature different speakers presenting on a variety of topics relating to the Ring.

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), June 12–July 1

San Francisco Opera presents three complete cycles of Wagner’s tetralogy—Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—in the acclaimed production by American director Francesca Zambello. Utilizing visuals from the American landscape, Zambello’s interpretation, which the New York Times called “boldly contemporary” at its San Francisco Opera unveiling in 2011, will include new features, including technologically advanced projections, new imagery and restudied stage action. Zambello commented: “Since directing the Ring here in 2011 and again in 2016 in Washington, D.C., I found the power of the work seems even more contemporary. The great overarching themes of the Ring—nature, love, power and corruption—resound through America's past and haunt our present. As I have worked on it I find I have placed more emphasis on the role of the family and the power of redemption through all the female characters.”

Donald Runnicles conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and a roster of some of the world’s leading Wagnerians that includes a trio of exceptional artists who are new to the Company: German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius will portray Brünnhilde; American tenor Daniel Brenna bows as the hero, Siegfried; and German bass-baritone Falk Struckmann, who has performed many of the low-voiced roles in the Ring, makes both his Company and role debuts as Alberich.

The cast also features American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley bringing his celebrated portrayal of Wotan to the War Memorial Opera House stage for the first time; Finnish soprano Karita Mattila as Sieglinde; American tenor Brandon Jovanovich reprising the roles of Froh and Siegmund; American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Fricka, Waltraute and the Second Norn; Štefan Margita and David Cangelosi reprising their acclaimed portrayals of Loge and Mime; bass Raymond Aceto as Fafner and Hunding; baritone Brian Mulligan performs Donner and Gunther; bass Andrea Silvestrelli is Fasolt and Hagen; and soprano Melissa Citro is Gutrune. Soprano Julie Adams sings Freia and Gerhilde; mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller is Erdaand joins soprano Sarah Cambidge andJamieBarton to comprise the three Norns; The Valkyries will be performed by Adams, Nicole Birkland, Cambidge,Citro, Laura Krumm, Lauren McNeese, Renée Rapier and Renée Tatum. The Rheinmaidens will be performed by Stacey Tappan (Woglinde), Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde) and Tatum (Flosshilde).

Reunited with Zambello for these presentations are the production’s creative team of set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Mark McCullough, and projection designers S. Katy Tucker and Jan Hartley. Laurie Feldman is associate director and Denni Sayers is associate director and movement. Company Chorus Director Ian Robertson prepares the San Francisco Opera Chorus.

Regarded as one of the world's leading companies in presenting the Ring, San Francisco Opera first produced Wagner's masterwork in 1935 with Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund/Siegfried), Elisabeth Rethberg (Sieglinde) and Friedrich Schorr (Wotan), with Artur Bodanzky conducting. In 1972, the Company mounted a new staging as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. A new production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff and conducted by San Francisco Symphony Music Director Edo De Waart was unveiled in 1985. Maestro Runnicles led presentations of the Ring at San Francisco Opera in 1990, 1999 and the premiere of the new production by Francesca Zambello in 2011.

For full details of past San Francisco Opera presentations of the Ring, visit the online performance archive at

*For the complete press release, including Ring Festival schedule and cast and calendar for Ring performances, please view the attached PDF.