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Seattle Opera Won’t Revive Ring Cycle Before 1991

July 7, 1988

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Seattle Opera is putting off its next mounting of Richard Wagner’s four-opera Ring Cycle for at least two more years, company officials have announced.

″Der Ring des Niebelungen,″ a staple of the company since 1975, won’t be revived before 1991, general director Speight Jenkins said Wednesday.

Instead, the Seattle Opera will mount a production of Wagner’s ″Die Meistersinger″ next year and Prokofiev’s ″War and Peace″ in 1990, he said.

He also announced the company balanced its 1987-88 budget ″with a slight surplus.″

Jenkins had planned to revive the Ring Cycle - ″Das Rheingold,″ ″Die Walkure,″ ″Siegfried,″ and ″Gotterdammerung″ - next summer after a one- year break in annual productions that had made the Opera House a mecca for Wagner devotees from around the world.

The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., is in the final stages of negotiation to host the Deutsche Oper Berlin’s production of the operas next June. In May, the Metropolitan Opera of New York will present its new Ring.

As a result, Jenkins said, Wagner fans would be drawn east next year.

In 1990 the San Francisco Opera plans to revive its highly successful 1985 production of the operas.

″We will do the ‘Ring’ in 1991, unless a cataclysm strikes me or this company,″ Jenkins pledged.

The production of the rarely heard ″War and Peace″ is planned in a collaboration with the Soviet Union in conjunction with the Goodwill Games. Negotiations for that production have yet to be concluded.

An extended absence of the Wagnerian retelling of Teutonic legend won’t mean the loss of Seattle’s reputation as a center for Wagner, but the expensive production can’t be taken for granted, either, Jenkins said.

″The Ring is not just going to be there, like Mount Rainier,″ he said. ″You have to work to earn and fund a Ring.″

He said it would be twice as expensive to revive the Ring cycle as to produce ″Meistersinger,″ which is expected to have a budget of about $1.2 million. The last new production of the opera in the United States was in 1977.

To open its 25th season, the company is giving four performances this month of ″Satyagraha,″ an account of Mohandas Gandhi’s years as a young lawyer in South Africa by the minimalist composer Philip Glass.