Chicago loses its Ring

Chicago loses its Ring


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2020

A message from the Lyric Opera in response to Coronavirus shutdowns:

…. the State and the City encouraged that community events of 250 people or more should be canceled until May 1st. This encompasses the time period of our long-planned and highly-anticipated Ring cycle. With great regret, we have no option but to cancel all three Ring cycles and the preceding two performances of Gotterdammerung…..

We are, of course, heartbroken to lose the Ring cycle. For the past six years, more than 300 artists have put their hearts and talents into the development of this event, and the excitement about bringing it to audiences from all 50 states and nearly 30 countries has been mounting since the moment the production was announced. The cycle performances themselves, and a large range of festival programming, promised to be a high point in Chicago’s cultural season.

But right now, we all recognize that our top priority must be to contain the spread of COVID-19. For the safety of our loyal patrons and the greater good of our community, we recognize that this is the only choice.

We ask for your patience as we work through this extremely difficult slate of performance cancellations. We need your support at this moment more than ever.



  • V.Lind says:

    There are going to be a lot more stories like this — years of effort stymied by circumstances. In every field of endeavour — sport is already taking a very hard hit for its practitioners. As many of them — more than artists in most cases — are on short careers, the loss of a season is devastating to them.

    There are losses everywhere, and some industries are going to be particularly hard-hit. In the great scheme of things, the arts industries, if one can so broadly define them, will take less of a loss than, say, airlines, hotels, other leisure industries. Some of their losses will not be recovered from. Whereas Chicago can start another Ring, orchestras can opt to play more, charge more, etc. There will be high demand for entertainments in every field, including sport, when we get all-clears. Some industries will have closed forever.

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      I suspect that what remains will be very much down to the local and national support they get during the time they are ‘dark’. The problem will be that the number of organisations along with the wider business community and individuals will all be severely impacted and the decisions as to who benefits will be a matter of hotly contested debate.

      The ‘Arts’ will be way down the list of priority spending and where they are dependent on endowments from individuals as in the US the funds will be impacted by the downturn of stock markets. The future looks bleak and the first priority must be people but beyond that as you say there are grim times in prospect for more than just a few.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if some entirely superfluous and meaningless art events would finally disappear, after being artificially supported for half a century not by any meaningful function in society but solely by an establishment of interest groups? Like a winter storm which blows away the dead leaves to make place for a rebirth in spring.

    • fflambeau says:

      “…the arts industries, if one can so broadly define them, will take less of a loss than, say, airlines, hotels, other leisure industries. Some of their losses will not be recovered from. Whereas Chicago can start another Ring, orchestras can opt to play more, charge more, etc.”

      Nonsense. Using your “logic”, airlines can just start another flight and hotels can just work harder!

      These are all losses.

    • fflambeau says:

      Trump couldn’t have said it better.

      Let’s help those airlines and hotels but the arts? Let them take care of their own. They can always put on another show.

      • V.Lind says:

        Not clear who that’s addressed to, but lest it is me, I am not suggesting what your second paragraph says. I’m suggesting that because businesses will be closed down, there will be little corporate support available for anything they usually support. I am all too aware that the state does sod-all for the arts, as well as other possibly more important things like health care, in the US.

        In the great scheme of things, it will be more important that public transportation become available again or nobody will be doing much of anything.

        There are people over on another thread whingeing about having to get their music by streaming services rather than live, which they find an offence to their sensitive hearing. I am just wondering about priorities around here.

        Of course in suggesting that there would be demand for entertainment when the crisis passes, I was forgetting that in the US there will be no support from the state. In every way, that fool YOU people elected will contribute to the horror of this crisis, as he has already, by his bloviating without listening to what is actually going on. The US is going to have a lot more to face than a missed Ring Cycle.

        • fflambeau says:

          Sorry, Mr. Lind, but that’s not what you said.

          You posted: ““…the arts industries, if one can so broadly define them, will take less of a loss than, say, airlines, hotels, other leisure industries. Some of their losses will not be recovered from.”

          That’s nonsense. Losses in the arts are every bit as much as losses in the airline and hotel industries. Perhaps more so since those industries will get bailouts, the arts will not.

          As an example, the Ring Cycle that Chicago intended to put on will lose: not only from ticket sales but also all the money spent on the production. Those are real losses that will not be recovered. Whereas, a cruise industry shipping business can shuffle sailings or cancel them. And most politicians will urge that taxpayers pick up their “necessary” tab.

    • Noah says:

      I think you are mistaken. Things were already not that great for many, many arts orgaizations. including the Lyric. I hope they are able to mount another Ring Cycle soon. That shoudn’t be taken for fact at this juncture. Assuming that once we get thru this virus everything is going to go back to what was, let alone a more healthy enviroment (at least in America) is a fantasy. If orchestras just needed to “opt to play more, charge more ect” Chicagoland wouldn’t have already had two orchestra’s close shop in the months heading into the virus outbreak.

    • Nick2 says:

      Surely it is understandable that the world’s priority now is to see this virus controlled and then hopefully eradicated. Sad as I am that the Lyric has to cancel a Ring cycle, it surely has no need to mount a new cycle. The individual operas have all been presented and I’m sure Gotterdammerung 90% planned. Although future schedules will be thrown into disarray, Pountney’s Ring is not dead. It can be rescheduled eventually.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        It will be controlled, but take some time. And control may well mean that enough people have had it that almost no new person can be infected.

        It won’t be eradicated. It is here to stay.

  • Opus 132 says:

    They are not paying their musicians, which should surprise nobody familiar with this contemptible institution.

  • Gerald says:

    Memo to Mr. Borstlap: Who decides what is “entirely superfluous and meaningless art”? Sorry, but I’m not willing to delegate this task to you.