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Magic Moments of Music - The 1976 Centenary Ring

Author: sounding images

14 NOV 2021: The film tells how one of the greatest scandals in opera went on to become one of the greatest musical moments of all.

  • Walküre | Copyright: © Unitel

    Walküre © Unitel

  • Götterdämmerung | Copyright: © Unitel

    Götterdämmerung © Unitel

The opera production sent ripples through art and society even before the curtain was lifted. Leaflets were distributed, signatures were collected and musicians left the orchestra pit in disgust, all because of disagreements over the bold new interpretation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle by conductor Pierre Boulez. After Ingmar Bergmann had turned down the invitation, the festival hired 31-year-old television and film director Patrice Chéreau. His submitted concept had fit on a single typewritten page.

Patrice Chéreau was strongly influenced by the socio-political writings of Wagner that were penned around the time of his work on the Ring Cycle. Far from leftist ideology, these were an attempt from Wagner to lend a mythological foundation to an epoch and to capture the sentiments of the time. In Chéreau’s hands, the Ring Cycle became an allegory of the industrial age in the second half of the 19th century, with all the political implications that this entailed. Despite the overwhelming hostility, festival director Wolfgang Wagner and the directorial team stayed true to their concept and gave over the stage to their own concept of art.

The “Centenary Ring” was a fulfilment of Richard Wagner's dictum that the Ring Cycle should represent a musical synthesis of the arts. When the curtain came down, it was already being celebrated as a musical triumph, and in time the production would be celebrated as an event of the century. The film shows excerpts from this unforgettable opera event.

Duration 43 minutes
Production year 2021
Production Company ZDF/ARTE, sounding images
Distribution TV C Major Entertainment GmbH
Director Eric Schulz
Editor Christopher Janssen
Producer Claus Wischmann

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