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Wagner in Brisbane


Because of the uncertainties flowing from the Covid-19 pandemic, Opera Australia has decided to postpone the Brisbane Ring performances until around the same time in 2021. Hopefully, by then, a vaccine will be available and the present crisis will be past. Only the dates will change. The cast and creative team will remain the same. Cycles and seats already allocated for 2020 will remain unchanged for 2021. Performances of Aida will take place on ‘dark nights’ of the Ring.

We shall provide further information on this site about the Ring in 2021, ancillary events, and any developments affecting Opera Queensland’s semi-staged performances of Tristan und Isolde currently scheduled for late October 2020.

See some fascinating interviews giving insights into the production of the 2020 Wagner’s Ring Cycle in Brisbane:

Director and Designer Chen Shi-Zheng

Digital Content Designer Leigh Sachwitz

Costume Designer Anita Yavich


Dr Peter Bassett and Professor Stephen Emmerson will speak on Richard Wagner’s approach to his heroic characters in Der Ring des Nibelungen and, by extension, his other operatic works. How were these characters originally conceived and how did they evolve during the many years that it took to complete the Ring? How are they dealt with in the Brisbane production? What does the music and drama tell us about both male and female heroism and the continuing relevance of this great work?

After Morning Tea, the final sessions will involve key members of the production team. On 11 November, the Stage Director Chen Shi-Zheng, together with other production members, will be in conversation with Professor Colin Mackerras. On 20 and 30 November, the distinguished guest will be Conductor Philippe Auguin who will be interviewed about musical preparations for the Brisbane Ring and will then present a commentary and analysis from the piano of the Ring’s musical structure, paying particular attention to Wagner’s marvellous handling of the work’s Leading-motives.


This event will focus on the contemporary but very different approaches of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi to the opera stages of their day, their influence beyond their own immediate circles and the extent to which they were aware of each other’s achievements. In 1870/71 Verdi was composing Aida and Wagner was nearing the end of the Ring. In what ways, if any, did they take account of each other’s ideas, and how did they relate to their own social and political environments? 

Stephen Emmerson will perform the beautiful piano transcription by Franz Liszt of the Danza Sacre e Duetto Finale (1879) from Verdi’s Aida.

Members of Wagner Societies who book for Great Contemporaries are invited to join the Queensland Wagner Society for drinks on the Conservatorium balcony immediately following this event.

QTIX Bookings:


Opera Queensland – Alex Raineri and Peter Bassett

At the Opera Queensland Studio, South Bank, Brisbane.
Friday 13th March 2020 at 7:00 pm, and Saturday 14th March at 2:00 pm.

A program of piano music by Wagner, Liszt, Berg, Scriabin and Debussy, and readings from related letters, diaries and literature.

Photos by Geordie Ross-Conley, courtesy of Opera Queensland



Wonderful news! Opera Australia has announced that Richard Wagner’s incomparable Der Ring des Nibelungen will be performed in Brisbane in three cycles between 10 November and 5 December 2020. Musical direction will be in the hands of French conductor Philippe Auguin (who conducted the Ring for Washington National Opera in 2016 and Tannhäuser for Opera Australia in 1998) and stage direction will be by China’s Chen Shi-Zheng who directed Turandot for Opera Australia’s ‘Opera on the Harbour’ in 2016. The production will use giant LED video screens instead of conventional sets; so visually, all things will be possible. German tenor Stefan Vinke as Siegfried will lead an international cast, and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra will perform Wagner’s incredible score.

Opera Australia offered members of the Wagner Society in Queensland priority early booking opportunities due to our support for this production as members of the Wagner Syndicate pledging a significant donation.

Renaissance Tours has announced specially crafted tours to all three Cycles. Details are at:

Cycle 1:                 10, 12, 14, 16 November 2020
Cycle 2:                 19, 21, 24, 26 November 2020
Cycle 3:                 28 November, 1, 3, 5 December 2020

For more details, please see:


Opera Queensland will present semi-staged performances of Tristan und Isolde on 28 and 31 October 2020. Acclaimed New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill will perform the role of Tristan, with American soprano Meagan Miller as Isolde. Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen, who has conducted the Ring and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for Opera Australia, will lead the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and OQ Chorus in a semi-staged production by Artistic Director Patrick Nolan. The Wagner Society in Queensland has further pledged a substantial donation to support Opera Queensland’s staging of Tristan und Isolde in Brisbane.


Principal cast members for the Brisbane performances of Tristan und Isolde were announced December 2019.

Tristan, Simon O’Neill had been announced earlier. New Zealander Simon O’Neill is one of the finest Heldentenors on the international stage. He has frequently performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Berlin, Vienna and Bayerische Staatsopern, Teatro alla Scala and the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh and BBC Proms Festivals, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Pierre Boulez, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Colin Davis, Edo de Waart, Fabio Luisi, Donald Runnicles, Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, Jaap van Zweden, Daniel Harding, Simone Young, Andris Nelsons, Pietari Inkinen, Esa Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel. He will perform Tristan with Santa Fe Opera in mid-2020 and will make his debut as Siegfried in the new Ring being staged by the Deutsche Opera Berlin in 2022.

American soprano Meagan Miller had also been announced earlier for the role of Isolde. She has performed at the Hamburg State Opera, New National Theatre Tokyo, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Opera Monté Carlo, Théatre du Capitôle Toulouse, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Washington National Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, and Opernhaus Zürich, among others. She has performed Senta in Zürich’s Der fliegende Holländer, Brünnhilde in Teatro Massimo di Palermo’s new production of Siegfried, Sieglinde in Die Walküre in Washington National Opera, Oper Leipzig and the Lucerne Festival, and Isolde for opera Leipzig.  

Brangäne Anna Werle. German mezzo-soprano Anna Werle has performed widely throughout Europe, including in Wagnerian roles, and will make her debut as Brangäne in Italy in 2020.

Kurwenal James Roser, Australian baritone, most recently heard as Amfortas in Victorian Opera’s Parsifal. His other Wagnerian roles have included Donner and Wotan in Das Rheingold, Beckmesser, Gunther, Kurwenal and Wolfram.

King Marke Paul Whelan, New Zealand bass-baritone. He first performed this role in 2014 in Liverpool with Vasily Petrenko conducting, and he has also sung Wotan in Das Rheingold, Hagen, Daland and Titurel.

Meet the Brisbane Ring’s conductor, Philippe Auguin

In 2016 I had the pleasure of attending Washington National Opera’s production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, conducted by Philippe Auguin who will conduct Opera Australia’s Ring production in Brisbane in 2020. Philippe Auguin has conducted this great work many times, including for the State Theatre Nuremberg in a production which I saw at the International Beijing Music Festival in 2005 – the first-ever staging of the complete Ring in China. He returned to the Beijing Music Festival in 2008 to conduct Tannhäuser with the Staatsoper Berlin. He has conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, the BBC Symphony London, the Royal Philharmonic and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino among many orchestras. It is fascinating to read his comments on preparing and conducting the Ring in the attached 2016 program interview, courtesy of Washington National Opera: WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin on The Ring

Listen to the following three interviews that Maestro Philippe Auguin gave at the time of the Washington Ring in 2016. The interviews are at:

Peter Bassett, President.

Opera Australia has announced the Production and Cast lists for the 2020 Brisbane Ring. For details see:

Griffith announces epic partnership with Opera Australia:
Griffith and the Ring