Ring Cycle, 2016

Modelling Valkyrie helmets at a rehearsal

The KCOHO had achieved a level of excellence that was never more evident than in the production of The American Ring, which took place in the spring of 2016, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the WNO.

The WNO presented three complete cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, often referred to as the Ring Cycle or the Ring. This was a mammoth undertaking for the orchestra and WNO. Over a two-month span, the orchestra spent nearly 135 hours in rehearsals before performing 42 hours of music.

Ring Cycle rehearsal countdown

Performing the Ring Cycle requires 13 french horns/Wagner tubas

The lower brass section with Alan Held as Wotan

The lower brass section with Alan Held as Wotan

Conducted by Maestro Auguin and directed by Francesca Zambello, the WNO’s The American Ring attracted Wagner lovers from all over the world. After each performance, audiences rewarded the WNO with standing ovations and thunderous applause for Maestro Auguin and the orchestra. The reviews were ecstatic for the entire company and especially for the conductor and orchestra. Anne Midgette of the Washington Post declared: “Philippe Auguin, WNO’s music director…led one of the most nuanced and sensitive and powerful Wagner performances I’ve ever heard. Under him, the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra played with chamber-music delicacy, brought out themes I’d never noticed, and made it impossible for anyone’s attention to stray for the whole five hours.”  The triumphant success of the Ring Cycle was a milestone achievement for the WNO. 

The orchestra, chorus, cast, and Maestro Auguin take an onstage bow after the Götterdämmerung dress rehearsal