Friday 1 October 2021

Samoan arts collective GAFA presents Wagner's Ring Cycle

Wagner: The Ring - GAFA - Samoan Arts Collective
When Richard Wagner came to write The Ring his inspiration came from the German mythical past, following on from composers such as Weber and Marschner who drew inspiration from German folk tales as a part of an artistic movement aimed at creating a stronger German musical culture (at a time when Germany, as such, did not exist as a country).

But Wagner, as was his way, took the concept and ran with it so that The Ring is very much the product of his own imagination and the gap between Wagner's narrative and the original mythic stories allows for significant leeway in interpretation. After Patrice Chereau's centenary Ring Cycle at Bayreuth (1976), which set the opera in Wagner's own period and used the work as a commentary of Wagner's own world, directors have found that the elements of Wagner's opera can be incorporated into a variety of mythic and realistic worlds, his music has such a wide range to it that it is difficult to encompass everything in one performance.

And not just Western European culture, I remember reading about performances in the Far East which incorporated local mythic elements into the work to striking and satisfying effect. After all misbehaving gods and human emotions are the same everywhere.

In 2019, the Samoan arts collective GAFA put on a concert performance of Wagner's Siegfried, aiming to incorporate Samoan cultural elements into Wagner's quasi-mythic narrative. Now the company is back with plans for a complete Ring Cycle in concert but with Samoan movement.

GAFA (pronounced ‘Nga-Fah’, a Samoan word meaning ‘genealogy’) is presenting Wagner's Ring Cycle at St Mary's Church, Putney, one complete cycle in German on successive Saturdays, (30/10/21, 6/11/21, 13/11/21, 20/11/21). Sani Muliaumaseali'iI, who has been singing Wagner for over 15 years and who studied with the great Wagnerian Sir Donald McIntyre, will sing Siegfried, Nadine Benjamin performing her first Sieglinde, and Yannick-Muriel Noah as Brünnhilde and Pauls Putnins as Wotan. There will be an orchestra of 50, the Rosenau Sinfonia conducted by Stephen Anthony Brown.

Full details from the GAFA website

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