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Photo: Monika Rittershaus


Top director Andreas Homoki rounds off the Zurich Ring with a stunning production of Götterdämmerung, which stands out in a cool designer look with its modern, focused interpretation of a musical masterpiece. This is Wagner at his monumental best, and an operatic experience that stays with you long after the curtain falls.

The production is enriched by a fabulous cast in Homoki’s refined, minimalist set design that zooms in on the psychological layers of the story: The power struggle, the greed. The endless game of revenge. The sacrifices of love.

I’m not afraid to turn the rhetoric up to Wagnerian heights and call this Ring-finish a gut-punch of artistic manifestation at the highest level.

The Finnish star soprano Camilla Nylund in her role debut as Brünnhilde has the international critics full of superlatives, while the German Wagner tenor Klaus Florian Voigt delivers at the top level as Siegfried.

The Zurich Philharmonic Orchestra plays marvellously under Gianandrea Noseda and turns the evening into a gripping musical experience, where the opera’s many orchestral interludes unfold in irresistible grandeur.

The Ring is long, expensive, elitist and exclusive – up to 20 hours of opera divided into four ‘sections’ – but the work has a special charisma of insight and eternity that cannot be ignored.

In an ominous opening, three norns (goddesses of fate from Norse mythology) spin a plot thread that summarises the events of the previous episodes. 

The high god Wotan set it all in motion when he broke a branch of the Tree of Life to make a sword engraved with all the agreements he’s made to keep power together.

The vile dwarf Alberich has stolen an abstract gold treasure from the Rhine Daughters and forged a ring that guarantees the holder unlimited power and world domination.

Under brutal circumstances, the ring has changed hands several times, and has ended up on the finger of Wotan’s favourite daughter Brünnhilde, whom he has turned his back on after a crisis of loyalty and imprisoned in a ring of fire on a cliff top.

Siegfried, a fearless dragon slayer, has conquered the flames, freed Brünnhilde and given her the ring as a pledge of love. Neither of them realise that the ring has since been cursed and evil threatens.

Siegfried and Brünnhilde wake up in a gilded double bed in divine love. Siegfried is sent off on new heroic exploits, but is lured into a trap and drugged into forgetting everything about their relationship. Drugged by vile elixir, he sends a new lover into the arms of his own girlfriend.

However, the new lover is nothing more than a useful idiot and front man for Hagen, son of the vile dwarf Alberich. It’s payback time. Siegfried dies and Brünnhilde takes her own life in the flames of the funeral pyre. Wotan sits slumped in front of a burning painting of Valhalla as the old world ends and a new beginning is realised.

Does it make sense? If not, it’s probably because the entire story takes about 24 hours of non-stop opera to tell. The Ring, as we all know, is the ancestor of many of the great epic film adventures that are constantly expanding with prequels, sequels and new, surprising plot threads that don’t make things any easier to explain.

On this night, the Zurich Opera House is packed to capacity with well-dressed Wagnerians who are guaranteed to have the whole plot under control and enjoy Andreas Homoki’s razor-sharp staging, which distils the psychological layers rather than forcibly extemporising with opulent directorial theatre.

It’s a highly rewarding theatre experience, and the most stylish Ring I’ve seen, although the tight scenographic concept of the ‘endless’ classicist palatial chambers on an ever-rotating revolving stage can be constricting in the long run, despite the many built-in variations.

Homoki keeps the game within the game board from beginning to end, and you’ll have the opportunity to experience the glories for yourself in 2024, when the complete Zurich cycle will be performed twice in May.

No doubt five stars from GOT TO SEE THIS.