|Location||Minden, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany|
Der Ring in Minden was a project to stage Richard Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Stadttheater Minden, beginning in 2015 with Das Rheingold , followed by the other parts in the succeeding years, and culminating with the complete cycle performed twice in 2019. The stage director was Gerd Heinz, and Frank Beermann conducted the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, playing on the stage of the small theatre. The singers acted in front of the orchestra, making an intimate approach to the dramatic situations possible. The project received international recognition and was compared favourably to the Bayreuth Festival.
In 1999, a project to show stage works by Richard Wagner was begun by the Richard-Wagner-Verband in Minden, the Stadttheater Minden and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie.Jutta Hering-Winckler, the president of the Richard-Wagner-Verband, was the driving force of the Wagner project, and particularly the Ring in Minden. The first work presented was Der fliegende Holländer in 2002, followed by Tannhäuser in 2005, staged by Keith Warner and conducted by Frank Beermann. After Lohengrin in 2009 and Tristan und Isolde in 2012, the Ring project, aiming to present the complete Der Ring des Nibelungen , opened in 2015 with Das Rheingold . It was followed a year later by Die Walküre , in 2017 by Siegfried , and in 2018 by Götterdämmerung . In 2019, the complete cycle was presented twice.
In 2019, the Rheingold production was presented in a concert version as the opening of the Kissinger Sommer festival supported by the state of Bavaria.
As the pit of the theatre is too small for a Wagner opera, the orchestra was positioned at the back of the stage, separated by a gauze curtain from the singers acting in front.Depending on the lighting, the orchestra and the conductor could be visible or hidden. The singers acted close to the audience as in a play, many of them playing several roles.
Throughout the Wagner project, Frank Beermann conducted the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, a symphony orchestra which normally plays no operas.The stage and costumes were designed by Frank Philipp Schlößmann, who was the stage director for Tankred Dorst's presentation of the Ring Cycle at the Bayreuth Festival from 2006 to 2010. In Minden, he had designed the set for Tristan und Isolde .
Schlößmann designed a large ring, illuminated in different colours, as a portal to the stage, with a smaller ring appearing at times in the background. A spiral staircase on the left made the balcony accessible from the stage, and sparsely used elements such as stylized tree trunks suggested scenery.The director of the Ring was Gerd Heinz, who focused on the psychological relations between the characters. He had the funeral march for Siegfried played without a background, as a symphonic poem on violence. In his version of the final music, all performers return to the stage, turning their back to audience and listening to the music, which has the last word ("das letzte Wort"), leaving the questions of resignation, end of the world or hope for renewal open.
The performances were attended and reviewed internationally, including by the Austrian Online Merker.Reviews by Eleonore Büning in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) compared the productions favourably with those of the Bayreuth Festival and noted that singers made their way to Bayreuth from Minden. Reviews also appeared in the Neue Musikzeitung (NMZ) and the Online Musik Magazin (OMM), among others.
The project was described as meeting Wagner's thought of the "birth of drama from the spirit of music" ("Geburt des Dramas aus dem Geist der Musik"), by singers who cultivate a "German belcanto" with clear diction.The project has been summarized as "Das Wunder Minden" (Minden Miracle).
The following table shows the four parts of the tetralogy Der Ring and some singers of leading roles. Most were the same in the first performance and in the complete Ring in 2019, but changes are shown in a second column, as listed on the project's website and in the summary reviews in the FAZ and the Merker.
|Title||Singers||Alternative singer in 2019||Reviews|
|Das Rheingold||Heiko Trinsinger (Alberich), Renatus Mészár (Wotan), Kathrin Göring (Fricka), Julia Bauer (Freia), Thomas Mohr (Loge), Tijl Faveyts (Fasolt)||Jeff Martin (Mime), Janina Baechle (Erda)||Merker, OMM|
|Die Walküre||Mohr (Siegmund), Magdalena Anna Hofmann (Sieglinde), Faveyts (Hunding), Dara Hobbs (Brünnhilde), Mészár (Wotan), Göring (Fricka, Waltraute)||FAZ OMM|
|Siegfried||Dan Karlström (Mime), Mohr (Siegfried), Mészár (Wanderer), Bauer (Waldvogel), Baechle (Erda), Hobbs (Brünnhilde)||Martin (Mime)||Merker|
|Götterdämmerung||Bauer (Third Norn / Woglinde), Mohr (Siegfried), Hobbs (Brünnhilde), Mészár (Gunter), Hofmann (Gutrune), Andreas Hörl (Hagen), Göring (Waltraute)||NMZ OMM Schott|
Der Ring des Nibelungen, WWV 86, is a cycle of four German-language epic music dramas composed by Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. The composer termed the cycle a "Bühnenfestspiel", structured in three days preceded by a Vorabend. It is often referred to as the Ring cycle, Wagner's Ring, or simply The Ring.
Die Walküre, WWV 86B, is the second of the four music dramas that constitute Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen,. It was performed, as a single opera, at the National Theatre Munich on 26 June 1870, and received its first performance as part of the Ring cycle at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 14 August 1876.
Ortrun Wenkel is a German operatic contralto. She notably portrayed the role of Erda in the Bayreuth Jahrhundertring in 1976 and was awarded a Grammy Award as a Principal Soloist in 1983.
The Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie is a German symphony orchestra based in Herford. It was founded in 1950 and, along with Philharmonie Südwestfalen and Landesjugendorchester NRW, is one of the 'official' orchestras (Landesorchester) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The orchestra has been shaped by conductors such as Wilhelm Schüchter, Hermann Scherchen and Andris Nelsons, has regularly served several cities in northwest Germany, toured internationally and recorded unusual repertory. Eugene Tzigane was conductor from 2010 to 2014, succeeded by Yves Abel.
Stadttheater Minden is a municipal theatre in Minden, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The theatre has no ensemble, but stages some productions of its own. It became known for a Wagner project culminating in Der Ring in Minden.
The Jahrhundertring was the production of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, at the Bayreuth Festival in 1976, celebrating the centenary of both the festival and the first performance of the complete cycle. The festival was directed by Wolfgang Wagner and the production was created by the French team of conductor Pierre Boulez, stage director Patrice Chéreau, stage designer Richard Peduzzi, costume designer Jacques Schmidt and lighting designer André Diot. The cycle was shown first in 1976, then in the following years until 1980. It was filmed for television in 1979 and 1980. While the first performance caused "a near-riot" for its brash modernity, the staging established a standard, termed Regietheater, for later productions.
Norma Sharp is an American operatic soprano. She is known for singing Mozart and Richard Strauss, but also sang Wagner roles at the Bayreuth Festival. She worked mostly in Germany, made an international career, and has been a professor of voice at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" from 1992.
Andreas Schager is an Austrian operatic tenor. He began his career as a tenor for operettas, but has developed into singing Heldentenor parts by Richard Wagner including Tristan, Siegmund, Siegfried and Parsifal. A member of the Staatsoper Berlin, he has appeared internationally at venues including La Scala, The Proms and the Bayreuth Festival.
Frank Beermann is a German conductor. He was Generalmusikdirektor (GMD) at the Chemnitz Opera for several years, and has worked freelance at international opera houses from 2012. He has conducted premieres and recordings of rarely performed operas and orchestral works.
Dara Kristin Hobbs is an American operatic soprano, who has appeared internationally, mostly in European opera houses. Her repertoire has focused on dramatic soprano roles in operas by Wagner and Strauss such as Isolde and Ariadne.
Matthias von Stegmann is a German actor, voice-over speaker and writer, author and stage director for theatre and especially opera who works internationally. He wrote dialogue and directed it for German versions of American series such The Simpsons. In opera, he has focused on the work of Richard Wagner. He staged a version of his Der Ring des Nibelungen for children, first in Tokyo, then in German at the Vienna State Opera and in Zurich. He staged in 2012 Tristan und Isolde in Minden, and in 2013 the first performance of Rienzi at the Bayreuth Festival.
Jutta Hanna Edith Hering-Winckler is a German lawyer and patron of music. Since 1977, she has been head of a law firm in Minden as a lawyer and notary. Since 1999, she has been president of the Richard Wagner Society in Minden. She received awards for her civic engagement as the driving force of the Wagner project at the Stadttheater Minden, particularly Der Ring in Minden, which brought her hometown to international recognition.
Thomas Mohr is a German operatic tenor and academic voice teacher. He began his career as a baritone, but moved on to heldentenor and has performed roles in all tenor parts of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at Der Ring in Minden. He has appeared at major international opera houses and concert halls, and made recordings. Mohr is a professor of voice at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen. He also runs an agricultural estate where he founded a music festival.
Renatus Mészár is a German operatic bass who has performed leading roles such as Wotan in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at major opera houses and festivals. Now a member of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, he appeared in the world premiere of Avner Dorman's Wahnfried and the first recording of Bruno Maderna's Requiem.
Kathrin Göring is a German operatic mezzo-soprano, a member of the Oper Leipzig who has appeared at other major opera houses, also in concert and recital, and made recordings. She has appeared in Leipzig in leading roles such as Bizet's Carmen and Wagner's Kundry, and was both Fricka and Waltraute in Der Ring in Minden, noted for both her voice and her dramatic portrayal of the characters.
Tijl Faveyts is a Belgian operatic bass. A member of the Komische Oper Berlin, he has performed leading roles such as Mozart's Sarastro and Hunding in Wagner's Die Walküre at major opera houses, concert halls and festivals, and made recordings.
Frank Philipp Schlößmann is a German scenic designer focused on operas who has worked at major opera houses and festivals internationally. He staged Janáček's Jenůfa at the Metropolitan Opera, Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at both the Bayreuth Festival and Der Ring in Minden, and the world premiere of Heinz Holliger's Lunea at the Opernhaus Zürich.
Jeff Martin is an American operatic tenor who made a career based in Germany, singing at international opera houses and concert halls. Focused on character roles, he has appeared as Mime in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen and Herod in Salome by Richard Strauss, and appeared in several world premieres.
Heiko Trinsinger is a German operatic baritone. A member of the Aalto Theatre in Essen, he has performed leading roles at major houses, such as Mozart's Papageno and Wagner's Alberich.
Julia Bauer is a German operatic coloratura soprano who has appeared at major opera houses and also in concert and recital. She has had leading roles such as Zerbinetta and Lulu, and was Freia, Helmwige, Forest Bird, Woglinde and Third Norn in Der Ring in Minden.