Bendigo prepares for Melbourne Opera’s Ring Cycle Cultural Festival

Melbourne-Opera-Warwick-Fyfe-as-WotanFrom 24 March – 30 April, Bendigo will play host to another destination arts event. Melbourne Opera’s Ring Cycle Cultural Festival is a truly rare opera occasion, drawing opera lovers from around the world to the regional Victorian city.

The festival is built around an Australian regional-first staging of one of the biggest productions in all the performing arts, Wagner’s Ring Cycle. A 15-hour epic encompassing four operas, the Ring Cycle will be staged three times over a total of six weekends, complemented by gala dinners, symposiums, recitals, intimate concerts and more across the six week program.

Legendary two-time GRAMMY Award-winning Wagnerian tenor Siegfried Jerusalem is flying in from Germany as a special guest of Melbourne Opera, and will participate in two events during the festival program in line with Cycle 2 and Cycle 3. He will appear In Conversation on 15 and 29 April, and perform a Masterclass on 22 April. Tickets are strictly limited for both events.

One of the greatest Wagner tenors of the last 60 years, Siegfried Jerusalem starred in the acclaimed Chereau Ring in 1976 and performed all tenor roles in many subsequent Bayreuth Rings until the year 2000. He also sings Siegfried in the famous Bernard Haitink recordings.

“We are particularly thrilled to welcome one of Wagner’s greatest living tenors, Siegfried Jerusalem. He will connect with three of our Australian cast via an open masterclass, and appear as our very special guest,” said Melbourne Opera Producer Greg Hocking AM.

“We are also immeasurably proud to continue our work with a Wagnerian conductor of the calibre of Anthony Negus. He will lead the acclaimed 90-piece Melbourne Opera Orchestra, including four harps, sixteen anvils and our famous Wagner tubas for our six week season.”

The festival program will be held at unique venues around the city of Bendigo such as the heritage church and mansion at Langley Estate, Deborah Gold Mine (entry via the mine shaft, hard hat on!), inside the National Trust-listed Capital and more.

Opera devotees will not want to miss the free full day Wagner Symposium, on Saturday 22 April, and the Wagner, Lord of the Ring concerts on Saturday afternoons throughout the program.

All four Ring operas will be staged in full at the acoustically impressive Ulumbarra Theatre, and will be conducted by international Wagner specialist Anthony Negus and David Kram AM.

The Ring Cycle directly follows Anthony Negus’ highly successful productions of Die Walkure with the English National Opera at London’s famed Colosseum, and at his famous Longborough Festival Opera, not to mention Melbourne Opera’s previous Ring productions.

The company began tackling the Ring Cycle in 2021, staging the first two Ring operas in full over two years (Das Rheingold and Die Walkure), to resounding critical and public acclaim. Das Rheingold won the 2021 Green Room Award for Best Opera Production, with Die Walkure just announced as a nominee for the same 2022 Green Room Award, alongside nominations for many individual artists.

“As we celebrate our 21st anniversary as a company, we are particularly proud to be mounting the Ring Cycle, with an all Australian cast, creative team and company,” said Lady Primrose Potter, Patron in Chief of Melbourne Opera.

The Ring is the most challenging undertaking for any opera company and for Melbourne Opera to have achieved it with no government funding is nothing short of incredible.”

The not-for-profit arts organisation’s $5 million festival will employ over 250 Australian singers, musicians, creatives and technicians. The exclusively regional production is expected to drive major tourism to Bendigo, and encourages longer stays in the booming Bendigo region, which has hosted a range of international arts and culture exhibitions and events in recent years.

A superb Australian cast has been assembled for The Ring Cycle Cultural Festival, many of whom also appeared in Melbourne Opera’s previous Ring productions.

Warwick Fyfe will reprise his role as Wotan alongside Antoinette Halloran and Zara Barrett as Brünnhilde. Bradley Daley and Brad Cooper will appear as Siegfried, Lee Abrahmsen as Sieglinde and Freia, Simon Meadows as Alberich, James Egglestone as Siegmund and Loge, and Adrian Tamburini as Hunding and Hagen.

Steven Gallop performs Fafner, Hunding and Hagen, Darren Jeffery as Fasolt, Deborah Humble as Erda, and Rosamund Illing as Gerhilde and a Norn, leading a cast that includes many other magnificent Melbourne Opera singers.

Anthony Negus describes how Siegfried’s score references The Ring’s first opera Das Rheingold, which he travelled to Australia to conduct at the Regent Theatre in February 2021.

“The mysterious opening over a long deep timpani roll and Mime’s brooding bassoon thirds leads into a reliving of the great build up in Rheingold scene four, where the gold is brought up to Wotan and Loge by the Nibelungs,” said Negus.

The Ring Cycle is led by one of Australia’s leading Wagner directors, Suzanne Chaundy, who is thrilled to crown her immense staggered staging of Wagner’s epic Ring with a season of three fully staged cycles.

“We will tell this tale as an adult fairy-tale, full of mythical horror and deep-seated psychological yearning,” said Chaundy.

Wagner’s Ring is known to be the inspiration behind many great themes, stories and soundtracks across the ages. The plot is understood to have inspired Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and the score includes highlights such as Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral March, Wotan’s Farewell and the infamous Ride of the Valkyries, known to modern audiences for its memorable use in iconic films such as Apocalypse Now.

Made possible by Melbourne’s most distinguished and committed arts patrons, The Ring Cycle including the cultural festival is supported by Henkell Brothers’ generous sponsorship, Lady Potter AC and the Robert Salzer Foundation.

It is a destination event not to be missed, whether one is an opera lover or has a passion for the performing arts. Visitors are encouraged to stay in Bendigo to experience the associated festival events and The Ring Cycle:

Cycle 1:
Das Rheingold – 24 March
Die Walkure – 26 March
Siegfried – 31 March
Götterdämmerung – 2 April

Cycle 2: 
Das Rheingold – 7 April
Die Walkure – 9 April
Siegfried – 14 April
Götterdämmerung – 16 April

Cycle 3:
Das Rheingold – 21 April
Die Walkure – 23 April
Siegfried – 28 April
Götterdämmerung – 30 April

For more information on The Ring Cycle and Melbourne Opera’s Ring Cycle Cultural Festival, visit: for details.

Image: Warwick Fyfe as Wotan in Melbourne Opera 2022 production of Die Walküre – photo by Robin Halls