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Seattle's First Ring

Few companies outside of Bayreuth have performed Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen regularly in its entirety, but under founding General Director Glynn Ross, Seattle Opera performed it every summer from 1975 through 1984. Since then, General Director Speight Jenkins has produced two more Rings and more about these performances can be found in Wagner Highlights.

Seattle Opera’s first Ring production was the only one to be done in German and English in back-to-back cycles from 1975 to 1983 (the 1984 production was given in German only). In the days before supratitles, Andrew Porter’s English adaptation, usually priced much less than the German cycle, introduced many Wagner neophytes to the complexity of the libretto.

To judge by their writing, many critics were amazed this Ring was happening in a remote location of the United States, unknown to the national and international press for anything other than Boeing planes and a high annual rain count. Microsoft, Starbucks, and grunge music were still years away from registering Seattle on the world’s arts and culture map. But fans of opera knew that Seattle was becoming a major stop in any Wagner tour. By 1982, the New York Times reported that Seattle had become a serious rival to Bayreuth, drawing fans from all over the United States, Indonesia, Chile, South Africa, Switzerland, Tasmania, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Europe.

The production was designed by John Naccarato and originally directed by George London. Later presentations of the production were directed by Lincoln Clark (1976-1983) and Ragnar Ulfung (1984). Henry Holt conducted all the cycles.

Wagner Highlights

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Photo Credit

Die Walküre, 2005 © Chris Bennion photo