Opera North Blog

Ron Wright, filmmaker: The end is the beginning of this cycle


I am fascinated by how artists create, so I loved the idea of following Opera North on their epic journey through the Ring Cycle, even if I had never seen or experienced opera up close before.

Opera is dramatic and highly visual, it makes for great filming. The stories are such a big part of it and that was what I wanted to capture. I remember my late uncle loved opera; I would hear it constantly as a child and be fascinated by how different it sounded to anything else – the music had the ability to create such an impression.

When I set out on this journey to film and document Opera North’s first Ring Cycle, at first I felt a little out of my depth. The size and complexity of the rehearsal schedule was what struck me, it was immense. But once I'd met the terrific Michael Drueitt, aka Wotan, King of the Gods, our quiet, intimate little interview calmed my worries. I knew that the passionate human element set against that epic musical backdrop would provide the film's backbone. Also at this point a great colleague of mine, Richee Mathwin, came on board, which helped a great deal.

Due to the nature of this being the first time Opera North has worked on something like this, most of the filming happened at short notice, with very little time to prepare, which could be frustrating. But calls to see if I wanted to capture ‘10 anvil players with hammers’ rehearsing in Leeds, seemed vital so I could capture all of these separate moments that would enable us to paint the bigger picture of creating this piece of work. And it was also very exciting as it challenged my skills to improvise and plan filming literally on the spot!  It was amazing to see first-hand the amount of organisation and dedication that goes into that seamless performance the audience sees on stage.

As filming progressed, I was putting it together in my head, so that when we came to editing all of that footage I had a good vision of how to tell the "story". I took the beginning of the opening night of Das Rheingold as a great opportunity to end the film, just as the conductor, Richard Farnes, walked on stage and raised his hands to begin. That's my favourite moment in the film, because for me the end is also the beginning, as we move on to the next part of the Ring Cycle, with new challenges, new characters, and a new story to tell…

We begin our film journey for Die Walküre in April, with the first performance in Leeds at the Town Hall on 16th June.

Ron Wright

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