A Major Television Event – Robert Lepage’s Production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with an All-Star Cast — Airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met September 11-14 at 9 p.m. on PBS
New companion documentary, Wagner’s Dream, chronicling the backstage challenges of creating the Met’s landmark production, begins week-long Wagner festival on September 10
Robert Lepage’s acclaimed new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, will air on Great Performances at the Met, September 11-14 at 9 p.m. each night on PBS stations (check local listings), as a major television event. (In New York, Wagner’s Dream and the first three operas will begin at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN, except for Götterdämmerung which will air at 9 p.m.)
The operas – Das Rheingold, Die Walkűre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung — will be preceded on Monday, September 10 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) by the airing of award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke’s documentary Wagner’s Dream, which chronicles the backstage story of the creation of this ambitious new staging. (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the programs at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 p.m. on Friday.)
This is only the third time Wagner’s Ring Cycle has been aired on PBS. In 1983, Great Performances aired Patrice Chereau’s production of the Ring conducted by Pierre Boulez from the Bayreuth Festival, and in 1990, Live from the Met (the precursor of Great Performances at the Met) presented Otto Schenk’s Metropolitan Opera production, conducted by James Levine.
Both the operas and the documentary will be screened in movie theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada this spring and summer , and in more than 20 countries including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
A documentary by Susan Froemke
(PBS: Monday, September 10, 9 p.m.)
The stakes could not be higher as visionary director Robert Lepage, some of the world’s greatest operatic artists, and the Metropolitan Opera tackle Wagner’s Ring cycle. An intimate look at the enormous theatrical and musical challenges of staging opera’s most monumental work, the film chronicles the quest to fulfill Wagner’s dream of a perfect Ring.
“A highly entertaining outing for operaphiles and operaphobes alike” (Variety)
Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold)
(PBS: Tuesday, September 11, 9 p.m.)
Conducted by James Levine
Host: Deborah Voigt
Starring Wendy Bryn Harmer (Freia), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Richard Croft (Loge), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (Wotan), Eric Owens (Alberich), Franz-Josef Selig (Fasolt), Hans-Peter König (Fafner)
In the first opera in the Ring cycle, the gods of Valhalla clash with underworld dwarves and brawny giants, with disastrous consequences. The evil Alberich steals gold from the Rhine and uses it to forge a ring of unimaginable power. Wotan, the king of the gods, uses magic to steal the ring, but Alberich places a curse that guarantees misery for whoever wears it. Wotan’s unwillingness to part with the ring leads him to break a contract with the giants who have built the gods’ new castle in the sky, setting in motion a chain of events that will end in his own destruction.
“A triumph, at once subtle and spectacular, intimate and epic.” (The Telegraph)
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
(PBS: Wednesday, September 12, 9 p.m.)
Conducted by James Levine
Host: Plácido Domingo (with Joyce DiDonato)
Starring Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Bryn Terfel (Wotan), Hans-Peter König (Hunding)
The mysterious hero Siegmund finds shelter in the strangely familiar arms of a lonely woman named Sieglinde. Their forbidden love leads Wotan’s daughter, the warrior maiden Brünnhilde, to defy morality and intervene on behalf of the hero. Brünnhilde’s transgression forces her father to choose between his love for his favorite daughter and his duty to his wife, the formidable goddess Fricka. Overcome with grief, Wotan takes away Brünnhilde’s godlike powers and puts her to sleep on a mountaintop, surrounded by a ring of magic fire that can only be crossed by the bravest of heroes.
“Die Walküre enthralls.” (The Huffington Post)
(PBS: Thursday, September 13, 9 p.m.)
Conducted by Fabio Luisi
Host: Renée Fleming (with special correspondent Mary Jo Heath)
Starring Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (The Wanderer), Eric Owens (Alberich)
The young hero Siegfried grows up in the wilderness, raised by Alberich’s conniving brother Mime. He puts together the broken pieces of the sword Nothung, uses it to slay the fearsome dragon Fafner, and takes the ring for himself. To fulfill his destiny, he must overcome one more opponent—Wotan, now disguised as the Wanderer, who knows the world of the gods is coming to an end—and cross through the magic fire to awaken his true love, Brünnhilde.
“Visually stunning and dramatically engrossing.” (Associated Press)
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
(PBS: Friday, September 14, 9 p.m.)
Conducted by Fabio Luisi
Host: Patricia Racette
Starring Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Wendy Bryn Harmer (Gutrune), Waltraud Meier (Waltraute), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Iain Paterson (Gunther), Eric Owens (Alberich), Hans-Peter König (Hagen)
Siegfried and Brünnhilde’s love is torn apart by the curse of the ring. A trio of scheming humans separates the two heroes in a desperate attempt to steal the ring for themselves. Their villainous plan fails, but they succeed in murdering Siegfried. Heartbroken, Brünnhilde takes the ring and leaps into the hero’s funeral pyre, causing a global cataclysm and the twilight of the gods.
“The most theatrically effective staging of the four works in this epic series.” (The New York Times)
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.
Gary Halvorson directs the telecasts.
Major funding for the telecast is provided by Gilbert S. Kahn & John J. Noffo Kahn Foundation and Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. This Great Performances presentation is funded by The National Endowment for the Arts, the Irene Diamond Fund, Vivian Milstein, Annaliese Soros and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.
For the Met, Jay Saks is Music Producer, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bRing compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company’s repertory. The Met’s 2012-13 season features seven new productions, including Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, directed by Bartlett Sher and conducted by Maurizio Benini; the Met premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by the composer; Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, directed by David Alden and conducted by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi; the Met premiere of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, directed by David McVicar and conducted by Benini; Verdi’s Rigoletto, directed by Michael Mayer in his Met debut and conducted by Michele Mariotti; Wagner’s Parsifal, directed by François Girard in his Met debut and conducted by Daniele Gatti; and Handel’s Giulio Cesare, also directed by David McVicar and conducted by Harry Bicket.
Building on its 81-year-old radio broadcast history—heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network—the Met uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to reach audiences around the world. The Met: Live in HD, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters around the world, returns for its sixth season in 2011-12. The Met has also introduced Met Player, a subscription service that makes much of its extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online, and in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM broadcasts live performances from the Met stage three times a week during the opera season, as well; the Met on Rhapsody on-demand service offers audio recordings; and the Met presents free live audio streaming of performances on its website once every week during the opera season.
The Met has launched several audience development initiatives, including Open House dress rehearsals, a popular rush ticket program, Gallery Met, and an annual Holiday Series presentation for families. For more information, please visit: www.metopera.org.