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Ringside Seats

by Suzanne Yanko

Welcome to Classic Melbourne and our coverage of the Melbourne Ring: Opera Australia’s largest and most ambitious production, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, returning exclusively to Melbourne in 2016. Directed by Neil Armfield the Melbourne Ring will play at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne from November 21 to December 16, with Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen returning to conduct.

In 2013, Armfield’s Ring Cycle was acclaimed a triumph by audiences and critics. “The verdict was pretty much unanimous: this was one of the best Rings anywhere in a long time” Classical Voice North America said. Opera Australia’s CEO Craig Hassall agreed. “In 2013, audiences from Victoria, Australia and around the world embraced the Melbourne Ring,” he said. “The return of the Ring in 2016 is the next step towards fulfilling our aspiration to make Melbourne a regular international destination for the Ring Cycle”.

Classic Melbourne’s reviewer Heather Leviston attended the rehearsals and several full Ring cycles in 2013, enabling her to write detailed and well-received reviews of all four operas. We reproduce them in this feature to refresh your memory, or raise anticipation of what audiences might expect this year.

Starting on November 21, these reviews will be replaced by Heather’s judgment of the 2016 Ring season.

Classic Melbourne is also delighted to feature unique editorial in the lead-up to the first opera: interviews by mezzo Deborah Humble with key players in this year’s Ring. A soloist in all four of the 2013 operas, Deborah brings an informed background to her interviews, with many interviewees also being friends and colleagues in opera houses across the world.

The Ring Cycle has a particular significance for Classic Melbourne. In 2013, with Heather Leviston and Peter Williams, I started the website www.classicmelbourne.com.au with the ambition to highlight the breadth and quality of classical music in our city. Three years later we have also come to include opera, dance and musical theatre, with hundreds of published stories and reviews from a number of writers, including a core of six to eight regular reviewers. We believe we are well respected in the industry, and genuinely see it as a privilege to report on and celebrate music-making in Melbourne.

This feature will be refreshed throughout the months before and during the Ring. We are approaching this work with excitement and anticipation; please bookmark the page, and stay with us for the journey!

Suzanne Yanko,


Image supplied by Opera Australia. Photo: Jeff Busby

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