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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 15:42 GMT
Opera marathon 'coup' for Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
Wales Millennium Centre is the Russians' "favourite venue"
The Wales Millennium Centre is claiming a coup in staging the UK's only performance of the 19-hour Ring Cycle.

Cardiff will host the former Kirov Opera Company's production of Wagner's epic over four nights in December.

Tickets for the four operas will range from 80 for limited standing positions to 750 'superseats' which include a champagne reception and VIP party.

But the production has failed to impress all opera experts, with one saying it is not the best around.

However, Wales Millennium Centre Chief Executive Judith Isherwood said the booking was a coup, and would: "reinforce our position as a major player in opera and the arts in general".

"This is a world class experience," she said. "Doing the four Ring Cycle operas on consecutive nights is very unusual.

"It will attract an international audience and prices are certainly not out of step with a first class venue."

The Mariinsky Theatre company (formerly known as the Kirov) will only perform the Ring Cycle six times across the world.

Mariinsky Theatre's 'Siegrfried' Picture: Natasha Razina
The cycle is described as a "mythical masterpiece"

The 'special' relationship between Mariinsky companies and the Wales Millennium Centre started when director Valery Gergiev visited the site when the centre was being built.

Then in April 2005 he brought the Mariinsky Ballet (formerly known as the Kirov Ballet) to Cardiff.

Now Mr Gergiev, hailed as one of the most outstanding musicians of his generation, will conduct all four operas.

The performances will be seen by up to 1,700 people every night and the centre hopes to attract an international audience of Wagner fans.


But some opera experts are less than impressed.

John Allison, editor of Opera magazine, said attracting the Mariinsky was good for Cardiff but he was not so taken with the choice of material.

"I'm not a particular fan of this director's work and it is not the best Ring Cycle in the world at the moment," Mr Allison said.

"But from the Met in New York to Korea, thousands of people have queued to see it and it's a feather in the Millennium Centre's cap that the production is coming to Cardiff.

"It seems to be the Russians' favourite venue in the UK."

Most of the tickets are priced between 120-500, with some 200 "Superseats," being available at 750. These will include a champagne reception and VIP parties with the cast and conductor.

There are also some standing tickets available at 80 for those with the stamina to stay on their feet for 19 hours.

Full broadcast for Wagner's Ring
28 Feb 06 |  Entertainment

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