History was made at the Royal Albert Hall when Der Ring des Nibelungen, Wagner’s cycle of four epic operas, was performed over four warm July nights of the BBC Proms season.
The grand undertaking of the works, also known as the Ring Cycle, was launched by multiple-award winning conductor Daniel Barenboim, leading the Staatskapelle Berlin and featured guest vocalists including Nina Stemme, Bryn Terfel and Lance Ryan singing the leading roles.
The four operas making up this cycle: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre,Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, were written over 26 years, from 1848 to 1874, and make up one of the most extraordinary musical accomplishments of all time. Collectively the cycle requires a total playing time of over 15 hours, but the success of the artists involved resulted in a deserved 15 minute ovation following the dramatic conclusion of Götterdämmerung.
In this clip below, Daniel Barenboim paid tribute on the final night to his orchestra, as well as the Prommers in attendance for their dedication and silence throughout:
The performances attracted widespread praise on every night. Here is just a small selection of the numerous reviews the BBC Proms Ring Cycle attracted:
Das Rheingold, 22 July
★★★★ “Under Daniel Barenboim, the Staatskapelle Berlin sounded supremely natural, warm and cultivated” Financial Times
★★★★★ “An evening when the world’s most accessible classical music festival really delivered” The Mail on Sunday”*
★★★★★ “an evening that more than lived up to high expectations” BachTrack
Die Walküre, 23 July
★★★★★ “I rate this performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre as one of the finest of my experience”* What’s On Stage
★★★★★ “There were no weaknesses in this second instalment of the ‘Ring” Financial Times(Read review)”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fc5d6a2c-f44a-11e2-a62e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2bH7Eiws7
★★★★★ “The intensity in all its forms was sustained from first note to last” The Independent
Siegfried, 26 July
★★★★★_“The Staatskapelle Berlin is an astounding band, and Barenboim can walk tightropes over chasms with them”_ The Arts Desk(Read review)”:http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/prom-18-siegfried-staatskapelle-berlin-barenboim
★★★★★ “Another hot evening in the Hall, but worth every second” The Independent(Read review)”:http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/reviews/classical-review-prom-18-wagner-siegfried-daniel-barenboim-berlin-staatskapelle-8735933.html
★★★★ _“a thoroughly high-quality performance_ Financial Times
Götterdämmerung, 28 July
★★★★★ “For nearly six hours Barenboim maintained an approach that emphasised Wagner’s lyricism while never short-changing his drama” *The Guardian(Read review)”:http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/jul/29/prom-20-gotterdammerung-barenboim-review?INTCMP=SRCH
★★★★★ “Nina Stemme’s Brünnhilde rose to the finale magnificently” The Telegraph(Read review)”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/proms/10208949/Proms-2013-Gotterdammerung-review.html
★★★★★ _”[Barenboim] achieves a defining moment in Proms history_ The Arts Desk*
Image gallery from Die Walküre
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All images: Clive Barda, 2013