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The Metropolitan Opera's controversial 'Ring' to air on PBS

August 14, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • A scene from Robert Lapage's production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle by the Metropolitan Opera.
A scene from Robert Lapage's production of Wagner's "Ring"… (Yves Renaud / Metropolitan…)

Opera fans who haven't yet had the opportunity to weigh in on the Metropolitan Opera's new -- and divisive -- production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle, take note: PBS will air the four operas on consecutive evenings beginning  Sept. 11.

A multimillion-dollar effort directed by Robert Lepage, the Met's "Ring" cycle become something of a punching bag for some of New York City's critics, with much of the harsh words reserved for the production's ambitious staging, which included a 45-ton set of revolving planks.

The New Yorker's Alex Ross called the staging "the most witless and wasteful production in modern opera history," while New York magazine's Justin Davidson took greater issue with "an interpretive void at the opera's core."

TV viewers will be able to decide for themselves. The four-night broadcast will be preceded on Sept. 10 by the documentary "Wagner's Dream," a two-hour examination of the making of the production directed by Susan Froemke.

Los Angeles Opera staged a "Ring" cycle of its own in 2010, which was directed by Achim Freyer and also faced a fair share of challenges and criticism. Attendance fell short of hopes, and two lead singers took vocal opposition to Freyer's staging, though by the end of the cycle, audiences were filling the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera's "Ring" will mark only the third time that PBS has aired a complete "Ring" cycle and the first since 1989.


A 'Ring' divided

Full coverage of L.A. Opera's 'Ring' cycle

Opera review: San Francisco Opera presents a new 'Ring' Cycle

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