Australia’s first Ring director dies

Australia’s first Ring director dies


norman lebrecht

November 26, 2013

Elke Neidhardt, a German-born actress who premiered Wagner’s Ring in Australia in 20o4, has died, aged 72. She was resident director at Opera Australia for 13 years and her Adelaide Ring won global recognition.

Elke referred to Wagner as ‘an evil man’ and to conductors as ‘egomaniacs’. Singers thought she was terrific.



  • Boris says:

    She was terrific, no doubt about it.

    For me, the Adelaide Ring was the most extraordinary thing I have seen on an Australian – and perhaps any – stage. A tragedy that we were deprived of the opportunity to see it again.

    And a tragedy that we are now deprived of a sparkling personality, who brought so much to Australian cultural life and so many people. Yet those who knew her would realise that what she would really want at this moment is for us to pop a bottle of champagne (albeit not a cheap one).

    • Screen name says:

      In a black coincidence the news of her death spread during Gotterdammerung in Melbourne where the Adelaide word is verboten. Another Ring stolen to the extent any memory of the previous is to be expunged.

      My strongest memories from Adelaide are the first sunlight glimpse of the Rheingold as it expanded and morphed into earth mother buddha with one breast exposed to nurture us all, the end of Walkure which remains the most sublime theatre I have ever experienced, and most of all now, Elke’s slightly startled gracious smile as she finally took her director’s bow to a thunderous standing ovation.

  • Michael says:

    Not an Australian premiere, Norman. The Quinlan Opera Company toured a full Ring Cycle in 1913, and the State Opera Company of South Australia offered the first fully-staged Ring Cycle in a single city by an Australian company, in German, in 1998.

  • Nicole says:

    Elke Neidhardt, the first to direct an Australian produced ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (Adelaide 2004), will be sorely missed by the opera community here in Australia. She cared deeply for the art form, the national company and its performers as evidenced by her response on ‘Slipped Disc’ to news of Opera Australia artists being ‘rested’ without pay. Vale Elke.