Opera Australia today confirmed that Australian composer and conductor Richard Mills has withdrawn from its Ring Cycle project, set to open in Melbourne later this year.
Mills, a long-time collaborator with Opera Australia, was initially engaged as conductor for the epic Wagnerian work, but in a statement today has announced his intention to resign, citing a lack of vibrant “personal chemistry” between cast and conductor, despite “the best intentions of all concerned”.
“To achieve artistic success the chemistry between cast and conductor needs to be of a certain vibrancy and character. Unfortunately the necessary unity of vision for this piece on this occasion was not achieved”, he said.
“Therefore in the interests of an outstanding cast and production, and after a great deal of thought, I have decided to withdraw. I have been completely supported by the team at Opera Australia at all times and this decision is mine alone. I wish the project the great success I am sure it will achieve as a landmark event in the history of opera in Australia.”
Artistic Director of Opera Australia Lyndon Terracini has thanked Mills for the “outstanding work he has done so far on this project to this point” (Mills has been rehearsing with the cast in Melbourne for several weeks, according to the Opera Australia blog). While no replacement has been named, the company are no doubt searching for another to take Mills’ place as soon as possible.
The Ring Cycle consists of four operas by Richard Wagner (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämerung), and Opera Australia are presenting three complete cycles of all four operas at Arts Centre Melbourne during November and December – coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the great composer’s birth.
Acclaimed Australian director Neil Armfield will oversee the production and the international cast includes English soprano Susan Bullock as Brünnhilde, Norwegian bass-baritone Terje Stensvold as Wotan, German tenor Stefan Vinke as Siegfried and Australian Helden baritone John Wegner as Alberich.