LINK: Anna Russell on Wagner’s “Ring” cycle

Music Critic

Los Angeles Philharmonic; Phillipe Jordan, conductor
Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
Next performances: Tomorrow at 11 a.m. Saturday at 8 p.m. Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

The L.A. Philharmonic is presenting a program this weekend entitled “The Best of Wagner’s “Ring.” As is often the case with these kinds of titles, this one is overblown but the Phil has imported Swiss conductor Phillipe Jordan to conduct approximately 80 minutes of excerpts from all four Ring operas, aided by Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin in the climactic scene of Gotterdamerung and the entire cycle.

John Magnum — who once wrote program notes for the LAPO but is now President and Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County — has a relatively concise and well-written précis of the Ring cycle that you can read HERE.

However, if you want a funnier explanation of Wagner’s Ring (or even if you’ve never heard this or have and just want to revisit it), then click HERE for the late, great British comedienne Anna Russell’s classic telling of the story. Be forewarned: it runs about 20 minutes, but it’s well worth it! There are actually two different tellings of the story. The second one has a wonderful (and different) introduction and she throws in some different elements.

Incidentally, from her telling comes one of the great lines ever written: “That’s the beauty of grand opera. You can do anything you like as long as you sing it.”

Robert D. Thomas is a freelance music writer. Email him at: More of his reviews, columns and features can be found at


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