Epic nights at the opera arrive in Bendigo

·2-min read

Wagner's Ring Cycle is perhaps the most ambitious show any opera company can undertake, but Melbourne Opera is upping the ante, staging the 15-hour epic in country Victoria.

That's come with particular challenges, according to artistic director Greg Hocking, such as finding 150 beds in the town of Bendigo so performers have somewhere to sleep.

"Bendigo will be glad to see the back of us. They'll be all Wagnered out," he said.

The Ring is so challenging it has only been staged a handful of times in Australia and never before in a regional town.

"To my mind, we're the fourth original production generated in 150 years - that tells you how hard it is," Mr Hocking said.

The company began tackling the four-part cycle in 2021, staging Das Rheingold and Die Walkure over two years.

Now, internationally acclaimed conductor Anthony Negus has arrived from the UK to conduct the third part, Siegfried, at the Melbourne Recital Centre on September 25.

Mr Negus is regarded as one of the world's best conductors of the Wagner repertoire.

He said it was vital for companies new to the material to take the parts of The Ring one by one before staging all four operas.

"It's a very, very ambitious project, but where there's a will there's a way," he told AAP.

The conductor admitted he sometimes longed for Mozart or Schubert but said Wagner "absolutely repays" long periods of devotion to his work.

"I want to say just what a privilege it is to be living with this incredible musical drama over a long time," he said.

All this will culminate in The Ring Cycle Cultural Festival in Bendigo from March 24 to April 30, with three full Ring Cycles performed over six weeks.

The $5 million production will provide work for more than 250 performers and crew, with thousands of opera lovers expected to visit Bendigo for the festival.

Tickets to see all four operas start at $900, but half have already been sold, according to Mr Hocking, who said opera lovers from around the world will have to be turned away.

The regional production comes during a year when the national company, Opera Australia, has not programmed any fully-staged operas for Victoria.

Melbourne Opera will perform Wagner's Ring Cycle in Bendigo over six weeks from March 24 to April 30.

Siegfried in Concert is on at the Melbourne Recital Centre on September 25.