Just in: Richard Jones to stage his second London Ring, jointly with the Met

Just in: Richard Jones to stage his second London Ring, jointly with the Met


norman lebrecht

February 24, 2021

The post-modern director was heavily criticised for his 1990s Ring at Covent Garden.

He has now been engaged by English National Opera to repeat the feat,in coproduction with the Met.

ENO has commissioned a new English translation from John Deathridge. There are no cast details yet.


Press release:
English National Opera (ENO) is to bring Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the London Coliseum, starting with The Valkyrie this Autumn, subject to any further lockdown restrictions.

Directed by the award-winning Richard Jones, and marking the first time in more than 15 years since ENO last staged The Ring, all four parts of The Ring Cycle will be staged at the London Coliseum over five years. Rhinegold will premiere in 2022/23 followed by a reprise of The Valkyrie, and new productions of Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods in 2024 and 2025 consecutively. The Metropolitan Opera is co-producing.


  • Richard says:

    What’s wrong with Andrew Porter’s translation?

    New York / W. W. Norton & Co. / 1976
    329 pages, $6.95 (paperback)

    • Paul Dawson says:

      Agreed. Porter’s was a magnificent achievement, beautifully eulogised by Bernard Levin. I’m surprised that the cash-strapped ENO are wearing the unnecessary expense. I assume that this is ENO-only and that the Met will sing in German.

    • Gary Freer says:

      Perhaps they need it to be ‘decolonised’?

    • Claremonter says:

      “Hagen, you’ve killed him! You’ve murdered him!”

    • Sixtus says:

      Deathridge’s non-singing translation (published by Penguin) is in very accurate modern English free of Victorian and pseudo-King-James verbal mannerisms. You can check this because it is published with the original German text on the left-hand page, like the Loeb Classical Library and many English translations of the Divine Comedy.

      But as Porter explains in the introduction to his translation, obtaining coherent English that matches German prosody, especially as employed by Wagner in the Ring, isn’t easy. I hope Deathridge can manage it.

  • Charles says:

    Richard Jones, how dull and unadventurous. So yesterday’s news….

  • Player says:

    Great, great news.

  • Will says:

    Fantastic news! ENO doing what arts companies should – showing ambition.

  • Emil says:

    Wait, is the MET jettisoning its Robert Lepage already? Can’t really blame them, but what a disaster that was. It’ll have been used three times in total for full cycles(4 if they do one more), plus initial individual performances of the each opera, for a grand total of 9 full cycles. That’s a lot of money (they had to reinforce the MET stage!) for a sparingly used production, and one presumes that “The Machine” was so unwieldy as to make it uneconomical to set up performances of individual operas. Since 2011, outside of the unveiling of each new opera, never has a production been set up of just one without the others (they sometimes snuck in an extra Rheingold or Walküre while doing cycles). One can’t help but think that the Lepage Ring relied largely on the novelty effect, which has now dissipated.

    In total, there’s been 60 performances of all 4 operas to this date, both as standalones and as Rings. If, as I’ve seen somewhere, the cycle cost ca. 32 million$ to produce, thank God they got private donors to pay for most of it.

    • John Kelly says:

      Said private donors not supporting the workers I might add and $32m would have gone a long way. It is also apparent that a reprise of the traditional Otto Schenk production is not happening. It was very good apart from the dragon/Fafner which appeared as a gigantic (mostly offstage) balloon……

      • againstbigotry says:

        They couldn’t revive the Schenk production at this point without a MAJOR renovation of all sets. By the last revival, the production looked ragged, and let’s not act like the Schenk production didn’t have its own safety issues (Hildegard Behrens suffered major injuries from it). The Lepage has to be scrapped for its absurd costs, not least of which is storing the sets in temperature controlled settings based on what I heard (it is machinery after all). Quite honestly, a production ENO can stage is probably going to save the Met money in the long run, when you think about the crazy overtime costs associated with the Lepage.

    • Ghost of GBS says:

      And the constant malfunctioning of the machine causing the first radio broadcast of Walkure to get cut off my MPR’s sacred cow Prairie Home Companion and the Video of Rhinegold is an embarrassment to watch at the end when the machine malfunctioned and the gods just walked off stage instead of on the machine.

    • Roger Mortimer says:

      I agree the Robert Lepage Ring at the Met was awful – but in terms of disaster, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet if they’re about to stage one by Richard Jones.

  • Nick2 says:

    If the Met audiences increasingly failed to buy tickets for the Lepage Ring, wait till they see what Richard Jones gives them. If Peter Gelb thinks this will have his conservative audiences clamoring for tickets, he must be out of his mind. It may well succeed in London but I’ll bet it will never work in New York.

    • Roger Mortimer says:

      I don’t know that the Met audience is really that conservative – they (rightly) loved Robert Wilson’s Lohengrin, for example. But they know pseudism and BS when they see it, so we can assume this production will last about as long as one of Donald Trump’s press secretaries.

  • Dr Huw says:

    V enticing – that Jones/Haitink Ring was indeed controversial, but also highly praised in many quarters, and led to some great theatrical moments I still remember clearly 25 years later. The Warner follow-up grew on me but was less ambitious in many ways. Well done ENO – I look forward to seeing what the amazing imagination of Richard Jones comes up with this time. Interesting that the cycle may be in direct competition with the planned Kosky/Pappano Ring at ROH too.

    • Roger Mortimer says:

      “Jones/Haitink” is an interesting way to put it, as if they collaborated on it rather than Haitink having to hold his nose and accept what he couldn’t change.

  • Nom de plume says:

    The MET bringing in a Richard Jones production??? Sounds like they are going too far.

  • The View from America says:

    Maybe there are some good reasons for the MET to remained shuttered …

  • Tiredofitall says:

    For Gelb to announce a new Ring at this point in time would be nothing more than a misguided diversion from the Met’s current bad press. So–of course–he’ll do just that. Peter has never been one to avoid making a bad situation worse.

  • Martinu says:

    I have seen the “Machine” ring in 2013, and an additional Walkure. The production (after fixing initial technical glitches in the 1st iteration) worked flawlessly, and the whole thing was wonderful. The drama is there, the computer screening is effective. When you take each scene on its own, it is a rather conservative production. I am not a “Wagnerite”, and I have seen only parts of other ring cycles. But the 1st two in Vienna in 2017 were so utterly dull.. Don’t dismiss the Met ring.

  • James Cook says:

    I offered English National Opera my own ring cycle of four Biblical operas but they ignored me

  • Roger Mortimer says:

    Richard Jones, seriously? After the artistic and financial disaster of his Ring at Covent Garden, why not give some other young director the opportunity? They could hardly do worse.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    Wagner should never be performed in any language other than German.

    • Paul Dawson says:

      That’s not what Wagner thought.

    • IC225 says:

      “I hope you will see to it that my works are performed in English; only in this way can they be intimately understood by an English-speaking audience. We are hoping that they will be so performed in London.”
      Richard Wagner, 22 October 1877.

      • 19th Century Drama? says:

        The lack of surtitles at the time may have had something to do with this…

        • Paul Dawson says:

          Interesting point. I’d still prefer clear diction (as ENO achieved under Goodall) and a masterly translation (as ENO achieved with Porter). I’ve emigrated since then, but I understand that ENO’s slipping standards of diction led to them to introducing surtitles and that the introduction of surtitles led to even less care being given to diction. Such a shame. I have very happy memories of ENO performances in the 70s and 80s; the Goodall Ring being one of several highlights.

          • Roger Mortimer says:

            I don’t know that standards have slipped. I think ENO have been forced to admit to a problem that was always there, but was masked by critics sitting in the first few rows insisting they could hear everything perfectly.

            I hope (but doubt) that the introduction of surtitles at ENO, given that it undermines the whole raison d’être of singing in English, is only the first step towards singing in the proper languages.

  • Charlie says:

    No production of Der Ring des Nibelungen will ever satisfy everyone. It’s designed to cause controversy and Wagnerites and Wagner fans will always be the most polarised and unbridled of audiences. Let’s see what a theatrical mind as inventive and skilled as Richard Jones’s will produce decades after his first. For me there were many episodes in his and Nigel Lowery’s ROH cycle that stay in my memory way longer and with more truthful resonance than almost any other cycle I saw since my baptism of fire with BBC 2’s pioneering act-by-act broadcasts back in the early 1980s. And it’s fantastic news that ENO is planning ambitiously at this grim time. Don’t patronise New York audiences either. They weren’t sold on the Lepage which was vacuous and distracting, and whose main performing area left the cast about as much space as a concert performance at the Albert Hall.