Houston Grand Opera Nears the End of The Ring Cycle

The third opera in Wagner's famed narrative focuses on the story of Siegfried.

By Megha Tejpal April 15, 2016

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Siegried at the Houston Grand Opera from now until May 1.

Nearing the conclusion of its epic runHouston Grand Opera's Siegfried is giving audiences a new direction on the renowned music drama--the third of a four part series from Richard Wagner's distinguished narrative The Ring Cycle.

"In The Ring Cycle, Siegfried is the opera in which the story makes a substantial change," says associate director Esteban Munoz. "The argument is no longer a God's saga, but instead a hero's story."

Among only eight characters, Jay Hunter Morris plays the role of an adolescent Siegfried who is an orphan raised by the dwarf Mime. Throughout this coming-of-age story, he attempts to find his place in the world, and experiences many facets of fear and love for the first time. "This is the only opera in The Ring Cycle that is about ignorance and the process of learning," Munoz recalls. "It is also the only opera in the whole cycle that focuses on one character, instead of a series of political actions and decisions."

As with all of the operas in The Ring Cycle, striking visuals are displayed during the four-and-a-half-hour show. One of the most dramatic effects are the 12 video screens located behind the performers, which are complimented with a frontal projection and mobile projectors, allowing the audience to see what the characters are thinking at a precise moment. "Our videos don't show a specific place; they show associations which make the opera easier to understand," Munoz adds.

The change in the music's tempo, however, is what truly brings the illustrious tale to life. Wagner, who interrupted the composition of Siegfried after the second act to write two other operas in between, took 12 years to complete the opera. As a result, there are many distinct changes between first two acts and the third, the most notable in the harmony and melodic treatment. "The orchestration is magnificent," Munoz states. "The music in Siegfried is one of the most beautiful operas in the whole opera repertory."

Now through May 1, 6 p.m. $49-$257.25. Brown Theatre at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 713-228-6737. houstongrandopera.com.

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