Ring of Fire

When an opera company wants to go all out, the ideal project is the Ring cycle—a four-evening saga that ranges from the depths of the waters to fiery mountaintops, following gods who are fallible and mortals who are capable of transcendence. Its symbols lend themselves to endless reinterpretation: Marxist, Freudian, Christian, Buddhist, Victorian, Brechtian, prehistoric, space-age—take your pick. Every production is, de facto, its producer’s creed writ large.

At the Seattle Opera under Speight Jenkins, fresh winds blow through hallowred tradition. The musically vibrant Seattle Ring places the action in frankly theatrical scenes of wonderfully suggestive power. The Rainbow Bridge Wagner calls for, created here by floodlights haze, shines in colors so palpable you would swear you could carry it away translucent chunks. The dragon Wagner calls for is a two-faced giant in human form who knocks over whole stands trees in his flat, painted forest. The universal conflagration at. the end, though, is real fire, and its blast is felt to the reaches of the theater. Wotan, chieftain of the gods, is portrayed in Wagner’s age, and it makes great sense when aged warrior of the fable shows up in study, like some Victorian scholar: Wagner’s life did not lack for turbulence, but ideas were his true battlefield. Cycles gin August 3, 11, and 19. For tickets call 206-443-3299 or 800-426-1619.