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Opera North scoops two RPS Awards


Opera North’s critically-acclaimed concert staging of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen has won two accolades at the RPS Music Awards.

The production topped the Opera and Music Theatre category, while Richard Farnes, who conducted the Ring cycle performances, walked away with the Conductor of the Year Award.

The annual Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, honour the outstanding achievements of musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations during the preceding year. They are decided by independent panels comprising some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners.

The Opera and Music Theatre Award was presented to Opera North for the six full cycles of Wagner’s 15-hour masterpiece which the Company performed in venues across England during 2016, including Leeds Town Hall, Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, The Lowry at Salford Quays, Southbank London and Sage Gateshead. In their pared-back version, the dramatic power of the music was placed right at the heart of the production with the 100-piece Orchestra of Opera North on stage and the singers addressing the audience directly. Minimal costumes and lighting were used to enhance the performances, while a triptych of screens provided subtle visuals and text.  

The Ring also saw conductor Richard Farnes become a leading interpreter of Wagner's epic scores. He conducted all six cycles, in a series of performances which marked the end of his 12-year tenure as Opera North’s music director.

All four Ring cycle operas - Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung - performed by Opera North and conducted by Richard Farnes can currently be viewed on the BBC iPlayer and at BBC Arts Online. Anyone particularly intrigued by the role of the conductor can also watch Richard Farnes conducting the entire Ring cycle in a film recorded during live performances in Leeds on the 'Explore' page at

A special programme dedicated to the awards will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 7.30pm on Sunday 14 May.

Photo credit: Clive Barda

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