The main event of our upcoming Opera Without Words concert will be The Ring, An Orchestral Adventure, which is an extraordinary arrangement of the most compelling moments in Richard Wagner’s The Ring Cycle operas.
Wagner's four operas – The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and The Twilight of the Gods – are condensed into the orchestral highlights. Henk de Vlieger, a percussionist with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic by day, arranged the most important moments of the cycle and connected them to create a single work that unfolds the main story and the powerful emotional experience of The Ring.
Wagner required over 80 musicians to express the enormous range of characters, emotions, and events that take place. He even had a special tuba developed to get the sound he wanted! As you will see on the stage, the Cape Symphony has risen to the challenge, with over 90 musicians on stage including unusual instruments such as the Wagner tuba, the contrabass trombone, and the bass trumpet. According to Erik Ralske, principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Wagner “had sounds in his head that just didn’t exist in the standard instruments of the day.” In this video, members of the Brass section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra explain the “leitmotifs” or themes that represent characters, objects and events in The Ring, and demonstrate these brass instruments that are seldom seen or heard as part of an orchestra, but that are vital to fully expressing Wagner’s intent for the music.
We’ll also have an uncommon number of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons. Over in the strings, you’ll see and hear 27 violins, ten violas, nine cellos, and seven basses! And, there’s almost never more than one timpani player and harpist in an orchestra, but there will be for this extraordinary experience.