One of the major operatic casualties of the pandemic has been Opera Australia’s new mounting of Der Ring des Nibelungen, Richard Wagner’s four-night epic on themes from Norse mythology. The most distinctive feature of any new “Ring” in our time is apt to be the vision (however intrusive or misguided) of the director, in this case Chen Shi-Zheng, a theater artist notable for his graceful storytelling and blessed lack of ideological baggage. In contrast to many landmark productions predicated on accident-prone heavy machinery, Chen’s is advertised as all-digital, which might introduce crashes of another sort. The word from Oz is that the team has put the extra preparation time to good use, enhancing the original plans. Philippe Auguin, music director emeritus of the Washington National Opera, conducts. Stefan Vinke, acclaimed as Siegfried in the cycle’s birthplace of Bayreuth, is another whom Wagnerites from the Northern hemisphere will recognize. But the singer we’re most curious about is local. Meet Anna-Louise Cole, currently a member of Opera Australia’s Moffat Oxenbould Young Artist Program. Astonishingly, she’s slated for Sieglinde (who appears in just one opera) in the first two of three cycles and for Brünnhilde (who appears in three) in the third. Godspeed, Anna-Louise! Those are heavy lifts. —M.G.
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