Iconic Productions: Los Angeles Does Wagner’s Ring Cycle

“Producing a new Ring is the ultimate accomplishment for an opera company and it brings to the city a great sense of civic pride.” Plácido Domingo on staging Los Angeles’ first-ever Ring Cycle

Sieglinde (Anja Kempe) and Siegmund (Placido Domingo) in <em>Die Walkure</em> (2008); <span id="lbCaption">Monika Rittershaus</span>

Sieglinde (Anja Kempe) and Siegmund (Placido Domingo) in Die Walkure (2008); Monika Rittershaus

Staging Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is the mark of any great opera house. Since becoming Artistic Director in 2001 (and since then General Director), Plácido Domingo sought to produce a Ring cycle. Led by a generous donation from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Domingo’s dream became a reality, when the company staged all four operas in the cycle (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung) over the course of two seasons – 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, with complete cycles presented in the summer of 2010.

Wagner’s Ring cycle follows a cast of gods and humans in their ultimate quest for power and search for love over the course of four operas. Music Director James Conlon puts it well:

“Wagner, among so many other things, sought to create works that would unite the accomplishments of Shakespeare and Beethoven. The Ring can be viewed as a four-part symphony, with each movement culminating in the expression of a different aspect of love. Das Rheingold is the expository movement. Die Walküre is the slower, expressive lyric movement. Siegfried is the scherzo: the first act witty, sharply bristling with demonic and Beethoven energy. Götterdämmerung is the apocalyptic finale.”

John Treleaven as the title character in Siegfried (2009)

John Treleaven as the title character in Siegfried (2009); Photo: Monika Rittershaus

The Ring cycle is a massive undertaking with huge sets and the same characters in each opera (often done by the same singers). Acclaimed avant-garde director Achim Freyer (whose most recent LA Opera engagement up until that point included a wildly successful staging of Charles Gounod’s The Damnation of Faust) helmed our Ring cycle, a visually striking masterpiece that looked straight out of Star Wars. Colorful, cinematic, and iconic, it was emblematic of the pioneering opera LA Opera stages.

See more images from our iconic Ring cycle on the website: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.

For information about and tickets to our current season, click here. Can’t get enough German opera? We’re bringing German opera back to the LA Opera stage next season with Richard’s Strauss’ Salome, starring Patricia Racette.


#LAO30Images is a year-long photo series, showcasing the most engaging photos from the company’s history in honor of our 30th Anniversary Season. To see all of our images click here.

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