Saffron Opera Completes its Ring with Götterdämmerung





Saffron Opera Group performs Götterdämmerung at 2pm on 17 September 2017 at Saffron Hall (Audley End Road, Saffron Walden CB11 4UH)

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An ensemble of internationally renowned singers, an orchestra of over one hundred musicians including six harps, and a specially selected chorus of vassals and their womenfolk will see Valhalla go up in flames and the Rhine overflow its banks when Saffron Opera Group’s astonishing Ring cycle comes to a triumphant conclusion on September 17.

This extraordinary project has been hailed as one of the UK’s most ambitious and well-received Wagnerian events of the last decade, and has attracted superlative notices in a gathering swell of praise. Das Rheingold ‘was fit to be judged by the highest international standards’ (Wagner News); Die Walküre was ‘incandescent’ (Opera Magazine), and the performance of Siegfried ‘seemed to transcend itself… spellbinding’ (The Guardian).

Götterdämmerung continues with Siegfried, having won both the ring and the love of Brünnhilde in the earlier drama, journeying to the Hall of the Gibichungs on the Rhine.  There Hagen, son of Alberich, tries to gain the ring by tricking Siegfried with a drug into abducting Brünnhilde and giving her to Gunther, Chief of the Gibichungs. When Siegfried recovers his memory he is killed by Hagen. Brünnhilde returns the ring to its rightful owners, the Rhinemaidens, and rides into Siegfried’s funeral pyre. Her immolation triggers the destruction of Valhalla and its gods in the thunderous climax to the cycle which concludes with the surging triumph of the love theme. Siegfried’s Journey to the Rhine, his Funeral Music and Brünnhilde’s Immolation provide some of the most stirring music in all opera.

Heading up the dazzling cast as Brünnhilde is soprano Elaine McKrill – a singer who has performed major Wagner and Strauss roles with the Royal Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Stuttgart, Salzburg Easter Festival and Canadian Opera Company among others. The exciting young Heldentenor Jonathan Stoughton (‘His Siegfried [for SOG] was winning in every sense…his whole range well supported in terms of vocal strength, clarity and accuracy to survive this supremely demanding role. – operissimawhispers) appears again as Siegfried.  Joining them is the superb baritone Nicholas Folwell in his signature role as Alberich, and the excellent Julian Close (Royal Opera, Metropolitan Opera) as the terrifying antagonist Hagen.

Waltraute is sung by Australian mezzo Deborah Humble, returning to Saffron Opera Group after her performance as Erda in Das Rheingold, her recording of which for Naxos was hailed for its ‘rich burnished tone, and unerring dramatic instincts… one of the most compelling accounts of this crucial role.’

Also making a welcome return to Saffron Opera Group are Heldenbariton Paul Carey Jones as Gunther, Cara McHardy as his sister Gutrune, and the Rhinemaidens, Victoria Simmonds, Gail Pearson and Niamh KellyEmma Curtis, Harriet Williams, whose Saffron Walden debut this is, and Catrin Aur take the roles of the Three Norns

Under the commanding baton of Wagner specialist Michael Thorne, and with a hand-picked orchestra and chorus, Götterdämmerung promises to bring SOG’s outstanding cycle to a devastating and epic conclusion.

Saffron Opera Group was founded by opera-loving Saffron Walden residents Francis Lambert and Paul Garland in 2014, and inaugurated its work with a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. Its ambitious Ring Cycle has been one of the most successful Wagnerian events of recent years.

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