Zurich Ring Cycle focuses on dysfunctional family of gods

Wotan beckoned the other gods to join him in walking to Valhalla, their new home acquired at a high and painful price. Instead of following, they shot him looks of contempt and allowed him to enter on his own.

Andreas Homoki’s production of Richard Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” that opened at the Zurich Opera on Saturday night is a family affair, stripping Wagner’s mythology of usual trappings, instead laser-focused on a dysfunctional, brooding bunch consumed by greed. No rainbow bridge, no hint of a river, mountaintop or underground mine, not even an eye patch.

“You don’t need to see Valhalla built up by the giants,” conductor Gianandrea Noseda said.

Only a 25-minute walk from the Escher Houses flats at 11-13 Zeltweg where Wagner composed “Rheingold,” “Die Walküre” and the first two acts of “Siegfried” from 1853-57, the Zurich Opera is staging its first “Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Ring of the Nibelung)” since Robert Wilson’s typically austere rendition of 2000-01. Homoki and set designer Christian Schmidt will debut the four operas over two years, culminating in a pair of Ring Cycles in the spring of 2024.