Birmingham Hippodrome to host Wagner’s Ring Cycle, conducted by Valery Gergiev, and with the world-famous Mariinsky Opera, as part of the 2014 UK-Russia Year of Culture

Die Walkure © N.Razina (12)

Birmingham Hippodrome to host Wagner’s Ring Cycle on a grand scale with Valery Gergiev’s world-famous Mariinsky Opera as part of the 2014 UK-Russia Year of Culture

Wednesday 5 November 2014 – Das Rheingold

Thursday 6 November 2014 – Die Walküre

Saturday 8 November 2014 – Siegfried

Sunday 9 November 2014 – Götterdämmerung

Birmingham Hippodrome will present Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle conducted by Valery Gergiev with his world-famous Mariinsky Opera, making their Hippodrome debut, in four performances over five nights in November 2014.

Marking the UK-Russia Year of Culture in 2014, Birmingham Hippodrome is celebrating the occasion by hosting this world-class company in the UK’s second largest city.  This will be the largest Midlands event in the UK-Russia Year of Culture programme and the first fully-staged Ring Cycle in Birmingham in decades.  Gergiev will be bringing soloists from his outstanding company of singers, brimming with young talent.  More than 250 artists will be travelling from St Petersburg to Birmingham, along with 10 trucks of scenery.

Adding further international prestige to the city’s acclaimed cultural scene, the Mariinsky Opera’s Ring Cycle will be one of the biggest productions to visit the Hippodrome reaffirming the venue’s commitment to presenting the finest artists and musicians from around the world.

Announcing this major event, Stuart Griffiths, Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome said: “This is a great coup for Birmingham Hippodrome and for the city, underlining our reputation for presenting world-class opera.  Wagner’s Ring Cycle is probably the greatest operatic work ever written and, in the UK, is rarely performed in its entirety.  This production has only ever been performed in the UK twice before so we are very excited to welcome the Mariinsky Opera with its distinguished Artistic & General Director, Maestro Valery Gergiev.”

The Mariinsky Opera’s Ring Cycle was the first full production of Wagner’s work by a Russian company since 1914, and Russia’s first to be sung in the original German.  It marked the 300th anniversary of the foundation of St Petersburg in 2003.

As Maestro Gergiev explains: “I’m delighted to be bringing our Ring Cycle to Birmingham. In Ossetia, where I come from, our own folk tales parallel the myths that inspired Wagner.  I believed that we could create a new visual approach to the Ring that had an international resonance.”

The Mariinsky Opera’s Ring Cycle was first seen in the UK at Wales Millennium Centre in 2006, followed by London’s Royal Opera House in 2009.  It has gone through different permutations.  Selling out within four hours in Cardiff, the production was received by the public with great enthusiasm and standing ovations, although some UK media found the staging more controversial. In Baden-Baden, the production was critically acclaimed by the German media:

“[Gergiev’s] ‘Ring’ teems with dramatic vigour, a momentous flow, thrilling climaxes, and yet its delicate colour palette and thematic malleability infuse it with calm restraint, exposing moments of lyrical melancholy. Gergiev demonstrates his ‘Walkure’ is nothing short of the highest calibre. Not only does he inspire in his audience the desire to listen to this rendition repeatedly but also the rest of the Wagner’s tetralogy. As such Gergiev may have paved the way for Baden-Baden to become valid competition for Bayreuth.” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2004

Rather than exploring the abstract psychological drama, Gergiev and set designer George Tsypin chose to focus on the mythological elements of the tale to create a production set in a timeless and non-specific place, making this a drama that spoke to all cultures.  Tsypin’s designs are inspired by Russian, Caucasian, Scythian and Ossetian folk imagery drawn from myths that parallel those that inspired Wagner.  First conceived in 2003, the Mariinsky’s Ring features four enigmatic giant figures, towering over the action on stage.

“The stage was filled with genuinely intriguing imagery, evocative of ancient Russian folk and fine arts, and some strangely surreal touches befitting Wagner’s mythological epic.” – New York Times, 2007

As Tsypin explains: “I had this image of an amazing Ring which looks towards Asia, towards the Russian steppes.  I had a sense of this ancient Russia – an almost archaic barbaric perception of that culture, and I was very inspired.  This is a very different Ring, not a standard modern interpretation.”

Across the globe, the Mariinsky’s Ring Cycle has now been presented in St Petersburg, Moscow, Baden-Baden, Cardiff, London, China, Japan and in the US.

This Cycle coincides with the Mariinsky’s biggest and most ambitious recording project to date – recording all four operas on the Mariinsky Label with world-class soloists.  The first recording in the series, Die Walküre, features Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, Ekaterina Gubanova, Anja Kampe, Mikhail Petrenko and René Pape with the Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Gergiev.  The second recording, Das Rheingold, features Nikolay Putilin, René Pape, Yevgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Petrenko, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stephan Rügamer and Andrei Popov.  Both discs have been released to critical acclaim.

“So far this recalls, and must rank with, the great Rings of the 1960s. More, please.” – BBC Music Magazine, Die Walküre CD review, April 2013

Package subscriptions will be available from late November 2013 with a priority period for Friends of Birmingham Hippodrome.

For further information please visit:

Such an enormous project would not be possible without substantial support from BP as part of their ongoing commitment to Mariinsky touring in the UK and in their role as founder sponsor of the UK-Russia Year of Culture.


Birmingham Hippodrome is an independent, not-for-profit, registered charity.  The unsubsidised Hurst Street based venue averages over 500,000 visits annually making it the most popular single auditorium in the UK.  With no public revenue funding, it is home to Birmingham Royal Ballet and DanceXchange, presents all of Welsh National Opera’s repertoire, welcomes the best in international dance, West End and Broadway musicals and is home to the world’s biggest Pantomime.

Birmingham Hippodrome is currently expanding its Creative Programme building on its successful work in schools and in the community, and with free outdoor performances.  With partners including Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and private funders, the Hippodrome has recently enjoyed co-producing and producing new events including Six Summer Saturdays, International Dance Festival Birmingham, The Voyage (for the London 2012 Festival) and Summer in Southside.  It recently produced the 4 Squares Weekender, a weekend of outdoor arts performances in celebration of the opening of the Library of Birmingham on behalf of Birmingham Arts Partnership.


Support From BP

The Mariinsky is particularly grateful to BP for its important four-year commitment to Mariinsky touring in the UK. Already this support has facilitated over 35 Mariinsky performances at the Edinburgh International Festival, BBC Proms, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Wales Millennium Centre, Barbican Centre and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. To date the UK Tour has involved more than 500 artists of the Mariinsky Opera, Ballet and Orchestra. This UK support builds on the strong long-term relationship established between BP Russia and the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and forms part of BP’s cultural programme in the UK.  BP is also Founding Sponsor of the 2014 UK-Russia Year of Culture Programme.


About Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev became Music Director of the Mariinsky in 1988, when he was 35 years old. His tenure has brought universal acclaim to the already legendary Mariinsky Theatre by showcasing the talent of the Mariinsky Opera, Orchestra, Ballet and Chorus in more than 45 countries.  Maestro Gergiev has worked tirelessly to bring previously neglected parts of the Russian canon to the West, as an ambassador for early- and late-career works by Prokofiev such as The Gambler and War and Peace, which have since been welcomed into the standard repertoire. Throughout his career, Maestro Gergiev has helped young artists and developed rising talents, including world-renowned singers Anna Netrebko, Olga Borodina, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Mikhail Petrenko, instrumentalists Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Evgeny Kissin and Daniil Trifonov and dancers Diana Vishneva, Yekaterina Kondaurova and Ulyana Lopatkina. Most recently he served as President of the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition, which was lauded internationally for the high level of performance, judging and transparency that it set. Among the milestones of Maestro Gergiev’s leadership of the Mariinsky have been the inception of the ‘Stars of the White Nights’ Festival in 1993, the opening of the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre in 2006, the inauguration of the Mariinsky Label in 2009, and most recently, the opening of the new state-of-the-art opera house Mariinsky II.


About the Mariinsky Orchestra

The Mariinsky Orchestra enjoys a long and distinguished history as one of the oldest musical institutions in Russia. Founded in the 18th century and housed in St. Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theatre since 1860, the Orchestra entered its “golden age” in the second half of the 19th-century under the musical direction of Eduard Napravnik, whose leadership for more than a half-century (1863-1916) secured its reputation as one of the finest in Europe. Legendary artists who conducted the Mariinsky Orchestra and praised its outstanding musicianship included Berlioz, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Nikisch and Rachmaninoff.


About the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet

With a history dating back to 1783, the Mariinsky Opera has performed in the world’s most celebrated opera houses and has produced some of opera’s most important artists, including Fyodor Chaliapin, Sophia Preobrazhenskaya, Boris Shtokolov and Anna Netrebko.  Since its inception, the Mariinsky Opera, formerly known as the Kirov Opera, has placed an emphasis on Russian culture by showcasing works from great Russian composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Today, the Opera blends the Russian canon with European and Romantic classics and works from vital contemporary composers.

Founded in the 18th century, the Mariinsky Ballet is recognized as one of the world’s leading companies. Most commonly known as the Kirov Ballet (its former Soviet name), the company has been home to many of the world’s most notable dancers, including Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Mariinsky Ballet performs worldwide under Maestro Gergiev’s direction at cultural institutions such as Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts and the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in the United States, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, the Baltic Festival in Stockholm and the Salzburg Festival in Austria.


About the Mariinsky Label

In February 2013, the Mariinsky label launched one of its most ambitious projects to date: the full cycle of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.  Two recordings are already available – Die Walküre and Das Rheingold – with Siegfried due to follow in 2014.

The Mariinsky label continues to expand its DVD catalogue with highly anticipated opera productions: Verdi’s Attila, starring celebrated Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role; Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten directed by Jonathan Kent, which the Mariinsky recently brought to the Edinburgh International Festival, and Prokofiev’s first opera, The Gambler, with dramatic tenor Vladimir Galuzin.

The Mariinsky label, launched in May 2009, draws on the Mariinsky’s rich legacy and historic ties to the great Russian composers. It showcases the extraordinary talent within the Theatre and Orchestra, presenting new recordings of both celebrated works and those that deserve wider recognition. Each performance is recorded with high-definition technology in the new Mariinsky Concert Hall, which has been widely acclaimed for its exceptional acoustics. Recordings began in July 2008 during the annual White Nights Festival and are available from the Mariinsky label website and selected retailers, including iTunes. Notable releases on the Label include performances of Shostakovich’s early opera The Nose (which was nominated for two Grammy Awards) and Wagner’s Parsifal, named as one of the “CDs of the Year” by the New York Times.


About the Mariinsky Theatre Trust

Chairman: Lady Solti

The Mariinsky Theatre Trust has been ground-breaking in the world of arts support organisations. Created in 1993 by Valery Gergiev, the Trust combines practical assistance for the Mariinsky Theatre’s work in Russia with active promotion of its most innovative programming in the UK. Over the last 20 years these performances have given audiences in this country a richer and deeper understanding of Russian culture. The Trust has presented the Mariinsky Opera, Ballet, Orchestra and Chorus in most of London’s leading cultural venues including the Royal Opera House, London Coliseum, Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Centre and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane as well as major cultural centres throughout the UK. Future UK events will include major Mariinsky projects within the framework of the 2014 Year of UK-Russia cultural collaboration.

Mariinsky Theatre:

Mariinsky Theatre Trust:


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