NY Times on ENO’s Ring: You won’t go home whistling the sets

NY Times on ENO’s Ring: You won’t go home whistling the sets


norman lebrecht

November 22, 2021

In his review of the opening night of The Valkyries, soon to transfer to the Met, New York Times classical music editor Zachary Woolfe recalls that most reaction to the Met’s last Ring, durected by Robert Lepage, was about set disasters.

That won’t happen with Richard Jones’s new Ring. The sets, says Woolfe, are ‘simple, straightforward, clear and grim’ – four euphemisms for cheap – ‘sets that are pared down — even, by the end, nonexistent.’

He continues: ‘This is altogether more detailed, moving, stimulating and satisfying than the Met production it will replace. And tellingly, Jones’s single use of projections is more haunting than anything Lepage came up with: The nefarious Alberich, who forged the all-powerful ring of the title, appears, grinning with gold-capped teeth, as Wotan’s waking nightmare.’

See Alastair Macaulay’s Slippedisc review here.



  • PS says:

    I was not stimulated and satisfied by The Machine, but a lot of people were, so it will be interesting to see if they agree that this is better.

  • John Kelly says:

    Not going. Nomatter who is singing. They won’t get my money for this ‘stuff”

  • Save the MET says:

    There were massive overcharges for the Metropolitan Opera noisy and unsafe “Peter Gelb commissioned Ring sets which needed a further infusion of millions of donor dollars beyond the original projection due to Gelb’s agreement to allow Lepage to produce in his own set-maker shop. When they arrived, they had to be returned back to Canada for months with the expert MET set shop employees involved at great cost as they did not fit the stage and the weight was even higher than they newly installed heavier weight elevators. Several singers including Bryn Terfel said he would not perform with those sets going forward. So simple, low cost sets with beautiful singing might be the ticket for a cash strapped company.

  • Craig in LA says:

    It would be interesting to see an opera company do something truly radical, such as mount a production based on Joseph Hoffmann’s original set designs of 1876.


  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Mr Woolfe is putting a positive spin on what he saw. He, and those who might see it in 2025 will hear and I suspect see something entirely different.

    I cannot believe that in its current inscenation this will make the journey as in 4 years this style of production will be even more dated than it even now does. Berlin, Stuttgart, London – twice if we factor in Kosky at ROH, Munich, and isn’t Beito trying to get it on in Paris?

    Jones is, or was, a stimulating director for his time, but odd that the MET cannot find a young and home grown regisseur to present what Woolfe implies will be an odd fit for the MET stage. On the other hand it will be cheap, or at least look it which, again, hardly fits with the MET aesthetic.

    Maybe, based on this single showing we are all being too judgemental but I look at this and can’t muster much more than ‘oh dear’. I just can’t see it on the stage, where a Luc Bondy Tosca has been dumped to make way for a David McVicar Zefferelli rip off, and where many previous ENO co-productions have had a single run.

    It may transfer but will it get any more outings than LePage’s planks? My experience of the MET tells me that this is nothing like a comfortable fit. And, despite the impression I might be leaving, I am far more open to Regie productions than the audience applauding the sets as the curtain rises.

    • JB says:

      I am with you 100%! Why bring another modern European staging of the Ring to the Met. There have been so many, and probably better ones. Nézet-Séguin wants more diverse composers and audience. What about more diverse directors ?

  • Concerned Opera Buff says:

    I am finding it hard to understand why the Met Board thinks this new Ring is acceptable. Did a Met donar just hand over millions of dollars for a new Ring without caring what it looked like? I wonder who the sponsor of this new Ring is. Also, I believe Deborah Voigt should have sued the Met when she slipped and fell on Lepage’s dangerous set. She got up and continued, but should not have been put in danger.

  • Giovanni Gradenigo says:

    When it’s brought to the Met, it will probably be sold, insincerely, as “a fresh take” or “going back to the basics”, though it’s just doing The Ring on the cheap. Why not just do a solid concert version or one of the many thousands of operas, both popular and rarely performed, that would suit a smaller budget? So much repertoire out there; have they really run out of ideas that suit their budget? Nobody’s forcing them to do The Ring.