From ROH Die Walküre

BBC Radio 3 to air all 18 hours of Wagner’s The Ring Cycle over four consecutive evenings giving audiences a chance to absorb themselves in another world

BBC Radio 3, Opera on 3 – Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 February

  • Performances recorded at London’s Royal Opera House in Autumn 2018

with Antonio Pappano conducting the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

  • Stellar cast including Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde, John Lundgren as Wotan, and Sarah Connolly as Fricka
  • Online resources including image galleries, synopses, and filmed interviews with Pappano and singers in the cast accessible for first-time listeners and Wagner-enthusiasts
  • Melissa Murray’s dramatization of the 13th century Icelandic Volsunga Saga – The Last of the Volsungs – also broadcast on Sunday 14 February

In the midst of the current UK lockdown, BBC Radio 3 provides listeners at home with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of epic music drama, broadcasting Richard Wagner’s 18-hour operatic marathon The Ring Cycle over four evenings, from Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 February.

At this time of uncertainty, with no opportunity to attend live events, radio audiences are virtually transported to the currently closed Royal Opera House in London to enjoy performances of Das Rhinegold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung – as introduced by Tom Service. These were recorded at Covent Garden in Autumn 2018 – when the The Ring Cycle was last staged at the Opera House, in Keith Warner’s critically-acclaimed production.

Online resources, including synopsises for all four operas, image galleries, filmed interviews with Pappano and singers in the cast, as provided by the Royal Opera House, offer background information for Wagner enthusiasts and first timers alike to relish in the broadcast of the world-class performances.

Bringing to life Wagner’s monumental score and libretti – with the recognisable leitmotifs, the complex instrumentation, and text referencing epic sagas with its roots in German and Scandinavian traditions – Covent Garden Music Director Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and a stellar cast of singers. Among them, Swedish soprano Nina Stemme is Brünnhilde; Swedish bass-baritone John Lundgren is Wotan; German tenor Stefan Vinke is Siegfried; English mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly is Fricka; and American soprano Emily Magee is Gutrune.

BBC Radio 3 Controller Alan Davey says: “In the current climate, with restrictions still impacting our daily lives, we are pleased to be able to give audiences the perfect opportunity to enter the world of myth and eternal values – a world of truth and archetype underpinned by the eternal truths of human behaviour and emotion, and music of astonishing beauty. Listening to Wagner’s magnificent scores – with words, background information, and one’s own imagination to call upon – is a deeply fulfilling way to enjoy one of the greatest achievements of western musical art, and we hope that beginners and established fans will join us in this extraordinary world without having to leave their sofas.”

Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House Oliver Mears says: “ The Ring Cycle is the pinnacle of achievement for any Opera House and we are hugely proud of our most recent version conducted by Antonio Pappano, directed by Keith Warner and with an outstanding cast of top international singers. A vast panoply of characters, mythic inspiration and motivic invention make listening to a Ring Cycle one of the most arduous but rewarding experiences in classical music and we can’t wait for Radio 3’s listeners to join us for opera’s supreme journey.”

In the run-up to the broadcast of The Ring Cycle, BBC Radio 3 also presents The Last of the Volsungs as part of the Drama on 3 slot (Sunday 14 February). This is writer Melissa Murray’s dramatization of the13th century Icelandic Volsunga Saga, which provided inspiration to Wagner for his epic work. The Last of the Volsungs was produced and directed by Marc Beeby, long-standing member of the BBC Radio Drama team, who died on 26th December and will be greatly missed.

The complete Ring Cycle, as well as The Last of the Volsungs, will be available on BBC Sounds for 30 days after initial broadcast, where audiences can also read full synopses of the stories in the programme description.


Sunday 14 February

Drama on 3: The Last of the Volsungs

19:30 – 21:00

In the run-up to Radio 3’s broadcast of Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle later this week, Drama on 3 presents another chance to hear the stories that provided some of the inspiration to Wagner for his epic work: the 13th century Icelandic Volsunga Saga.

In The Last of the Volsungs, Melissa Murray creates a new powerful dramatisation of the tragic story of Sigurd Volsung and Brynhild, the woman he loves.

The Volsunga saga falls within the heroic tradition of tales that can be identified as precursors to the early European novels. They have inspired many celebrated works – from epic poems by William Morris and by Tolkien, as well as Wagner.

At the bedrock of the heroic saga is the idea of Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods. At the end of time the Gods go out and fight a last battle with their enemies, the Frost Giants and their allies, and in the conflict the universe is destroyed. The Gods die. This is the end – the inevitable, organic end of everything. With stoicism and courage, warriors rally round Odin All Father facing certain annihilation in that final battle.

Sigurd ….. David Sturzaker
Regin ….. David Schofield
Gunnar ….. Carl Prekopp
Hod ….. Gerard McDermott
Gudrun ….. Lyndsey Marshal
Brynhild ….. Abbie Andrews
Sadhbh ….. Isabella Inchbald
Arvid ….. Clive Hayward
Alf ….. Rupert Holliday-Evans
Hjordis ….. Kath Weare
Warriors ….. Tayla Kovacevic-Ebong, Gary Duncan, Philip Bretherton

Directed by Marc Beeby

Producer: Marc Beeby

A Radio Drama – London

Wednesday 17 – Friday 20 February

Opera on 3: Wagner’s The Ring Cycle

Wednesday 17 February: Das Rheingold

19:00 – 22:00

Wotan…..John Lundgren (Baritone)
Alberich…..Johannes-Martin Kranzle (Baritone)
Loge…..Alan Oke (Tenor)
Erda…..Wiebke Lehmkuhl (Contralto)
Fricka…..Sarah Connolly (Mezzo-soprano)
Freia…..Lise Davidsen (Soprano)
Donner…..Markus Eiche (Baritone)
Froh…..Andrew Staples (Tenor)
Mime…..Gerhard Siegel (Tenor)
Fasolt…..Gunther Groissbock (Bass)
Fafner…..Brindley Sherratt (Bass)
Woglinde…..Lauren Fagan (Soprano)
Wellgunde…..Christina Bock (Mezzo-soprano)
Flosshilde…..Angela Simkin (Mezzo-soprano)
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Antonio Pappano (Conductor)

Producer: Rebecca Bean

Thursday 18 February: Die Walküre

17:00 – 22:00

Siegmund….. Stuart Skelton (tenor)
Sieglinde….. Emily Magee (soprano)
Hunding….. Ain Anger (bass)
Wotan….. John Lundgren (baritone)
Brünnhilde….. Nina Stemme (soprano)
Fricka….. Sarah Connolly (soprano)

Gerhilde….. Alwyn Mellor (soprano)
Ortlinde….. Lise Davidsen (soprano)
Waltraute….. Kai Rüütel (soprano)
Schwertleite….. Claudia Huckle (contralto)
Helmwige….. Maida Hundeling (soprano)
Siegrune….. Catherine Carby (mezzo-soprano)
Grimgerde….. Monika-Evelin Liiv (mezzo-soprano)
Rossweisse….. Emma Carrington (mezzo-soprano)
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor)

Producer: Juan Carlos Jaramillo

Friday 19 February: Siegfried

17:00 – 22:00

Siegfried…..Stefan Vinke (Tenor)
Brünnhilde…..Nina Stemme (Soprano)
Mime…..Gerhard Siegel (Tenor)
Wanderer…..John Lundgren (Baritone)
Alberich…..Johannes Martin Kränzle (Baritone)
Fafner…..Brindley Sherratt (Bass)
Erda…..Wiebke Lehmkuhl (Contralto)
Woodbird…..Heather Engebretson (Soprano)
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Antonio Pappano (Conductor)

Producer: David Papp

Saturday 20 February: Götterdämmerung

17:00 – 22:15

Brünnhilde…..Nina Stemme (soprano)
Siegfried…..Stefan Vinke (tenor)
Alberich…..Johannes Martin Kränzle (baritone)
Gunther…..Markus Butter (baritone)
Gutrune…..Emily Magee (soprano)
Hagen…..Stephen Milling (bass)
Waltraute…..Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano)
First Norn…..Claudia Huckle (contralto)
Second Norn…..Irmgard Vilsmaier (soprano)
Third Norn…..Lise Davidsen (soprano)
Woglinde…..Lauren Fagan (soprano)
Weilgunde…..Rachael Lloyd (mezzo-soprano)
Flosshilde…..Angela Simkin (mezzo-soprano)
Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus
Antonio Pappano (conductor)