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Il Ring

All in a week, as Wagner intended


The Ring in seven days. Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung in succession. Four operas - one Prologue and three “days” - , four performances, fifteen hours of music in the long but concentrated span of the same week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. A project in the spirit of Wagner, who fulfilled his dream of an integral performance of his Tetralogy in the new Festspielhaus in Bayreuth between 13 and 17 of August 1876.

In the year that brings Verdi and Wagner together in the bicentenary of their births (1813), the Teatro alla Scala is to include in its 2012-2013 season a double Tetralogy: for all true Wagnerians and opera lovers everywhere, a full immersion into the most visionary journey ever to come out of the musical theatre from Monteverdi to the present. Four different stage settings linked in a single project created by director Guy Cassiers, under the guidance of one of the greatest interpreters of Wagner, Daniel Barenboim, and with four casts of excellent Wagnerians, well-kn own to opera-goers around the world.

The Scala’s connection with Wagner has solid roots, stretching back in time. On 26 of December 1898, the thirty-one-year-old Arturo Toscanini made his début in the Theatre with Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. After that and until his move to the United States, each year alongside Aida, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Falstaff, Otello and Un Ballo in Maschera, Toscanini conducted Wagnerian titles in almost perfect proportions: Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Siegfried, Die Walküre, Götterdämmerung and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Victor de Sabata from Trieste, the former Habsburg seaport, maintained the Wagnerian tradition until his death in 1967. However, according to the annals, Wagner has been conducted at the Scala by a long line of great masters of the Germanic cultural sphere: Siegfried Wagner, Franz von Hösslin, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Clemens Krauss, Herbert von Karajan.

During the twentieth century, the Scala has staged integral performances of the Tetralogy eight times in the same season: 1927 and 1928 (conducted by Ettore Panizza, an Argentinian of Italian origin), 1930 (Siegfried Wagner), 1931 (Panizza), 1938 (Clemens Krauss), 1943 (Franz von Hösslin), 1949-50 (Wilhelm Furtwängler), 1962-63 (André Cluytens).

The last time the Ring was performed in the same week (six days to be precise) was in 1938, when Clemens Krauss conducted the Munich State Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

Today, Daniel Barenboim is to take up this legacy and offer the public his interpretation of Wagner.


Stéphane Lissner

Teatro alla Scala