James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Watch This Free Stream of The Ring Cycle from Richard Wagner
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 06:35 PM
Got Netflix plans this weekend? Set them aside and indulge the ultimate (and original) binge watch: Der Ring des Nibelungen. The BBC has posted it for free streaming, and we have it for you right here.
Also known as the Ring Cycle, Richard Wagner’s best-known work spans four separate operas that eat up a whopping 15-plus hours of your life. But you’ll probably be so caught up in the complex story and endlessly fascinating music that you won’t even realize where your day has gone anyway.
The featured production is by Opera North, a Leeds-based opera company that came up with a genius solution to a gargantuan problem. A production of the Ring Cycle is a massive spatial and financial undertaking. Sets are generally grand spectacles. The orchestra requires nearly 100 musicians and over a dozen tuned anvils. On top of that is the cast. There are a ton of moving parts, and that requires a lot of space. A lot of space that a mid-sized company like North simply doesn’t have — they can’t even fit an orchestra that big in the pit. So instead, they moved the production to a concert hall where everyone could share the stage. And to solve the set issues, they did away with the traditional stage creations and opted for video screens that displayed scenic backdrops.
They took their production all over the UK, performing different operas from the saga in different cities. Last year, they did a run in Leeds featuring all four parts of the story. It was a smashing success. Now, the BBC has made it completely free to stream. And if you’re new to the story and intimated by the length — or if you can only handle Wagner in fixed amounts — you’re in luck: The stream is available for six months, so you can come back to it as often as you need.
Bookmark this page to get that mythical fix whenever you need — the complete Ring Cycle is available until Aug. 22. If you’re new to it all, it might not be a bad idea to check out this animated synopsis from Southbank:
And now, the main event: