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Ring Forum – Ring Cycle #3

June 30, 2018 - 5:00 am - 10:30 am


Featured Speakers:

Speight Jenkins

Dr. John Mastrogiovanni

Jonathan Khuner



Speight Jenkins

Title: “Creating A Ring”

During his tenure at Seattle Opera, Speight Jenkins put together “from scratch” two productions of Wagner’s Ring.  For the first of these two Seattle Rings, Jenkins assembled the remarkable team of François Rochaix and Robert Israel. Together they concocted a visually and theatrically daring interpretation informed by the more recent, director-centered approach that had revolutionized Bayreuth (and the opera world) in 1976. The Rochaix/Israel Die Walküre debuted in 1985 and full Ring cycles followed. And ever since it premiered in 2001, Jenkins’ second Seattle Ring production, directed by Stephen Wadsworth and designed by Thomas Lynch, the late Martin Pakledinaz and Peter Kaczorowski, was the jewel in the crown for Seattle Opera’s international artistic reputation. In his talk, Speight Jenkins will discuss the process artistic development, planning and casting such a monumental work and bringing it to the stage.

Dr. John Mastrogiovanni

Title: Brünnhilde “The Liberator Liberated”

Dr. John Mastrogiovanni will explore the transformation Brünnhilde appears to undergo from the Second Act of Walküre to the conclusion of Götterdämmerung. Yet, is this a transformation? Or is this an unveiling of her true self? These questions and more will be explored during Mastrogiovanni’s talk.


Jonathan Khuner

Title: “Wagner’s Mistakes”

There are places in the Ring where it turns out you have to ignore Wagner’s musical instructions and indications. So when putting on a performance, you do what you have to do, but should you feel guilty? Obviously, stage directors, far from apologizing, revel in their complete disobedience to the printed score and libretto.



PRICING: General Admission $65.00     Wagner Society Members $55.00   San Francisco Opera Bravo Club Members $25.00

ORDER RING FORUM TICKETS:  https://sfopera.com/ringfestival/




June 30, 2017 Ring Cycle #3 Speaker Bios:

Speight Jenkins is recognized nationally as a leading authority on opera and one of the most influential and accomplished general directors in the United States. He was educated at the University of Texas (B.A., 1957) and Columbia University (Law, 1961). After working as an editor for Opera News (1967-73) and as music critic for the New York Post (1973-81), from 1981 to 1983, he was host for the Live From the Met broadcasts on public television. He has written reviews and articles for a number of publications. He was appointed general director of the Seattle Opera in 1983 and, with productions of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 1986, 1987, and 1991, and ventures such as Prokofiev’s War and Peace and Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites in 1990, he injected new life into the company’s artistic standing and financial fortunes.

Jenkins’ knowledge of opera is reflected in the Seattle Opera’s many innovative productions, substantial publications, and comprehensive education programs and services. He has strengthened and extended Seattle Opera’s reputation as a “Wagner center” by producing all 10 of Wagner’s major operas – including two very different Ring productions. In 2006, Jenkins held Seattle Opera’s first International Wagner Competition, developed to discover and promote outstanding young singers who show promise of major careers in Wagner operas. Because of his passion for the arts and energetic leadership style, the Seattle Times named Jenkins one of the 150 most influential people who have shaped the character of Seattle and King County, ArtsFund presented him with its Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award, and Opera News cited Jenkins as one of the 25 “most powerful” names in opera in America.


Dr. John Mastrogiovanni was first introduced to Wagner’s Ring at the age of five by his father. By the age of nine, he was opening Wagner’s piano scores and outlining all the leitmotifs with their numerous variations. In 1995, Dr. Mastrogiovanni joined the Wagner Society of Southern California and in 2010, he became the Chairman. He lectures on Wagner in different venues, including societies, clubs, and colleges. Mastrogiovanni wrote the book “Parsifal: The Will and Redemption” in which he utilizes Wagner’s own concepts from his letters and prose works to help define the meaning of this amazing Sacred Stage Drama. As a recent lecturer in Bayreuth describe the book “If you love Wagner’s Ring and feel ready to enter his last opera Parsifal – this is the book to accompany you.” Mastrogiovanni is also an ordained minister and has been in full-time ministry for over 30 years, traveling educating pastors and leaders throughout the United States, Great Britain and Europe.


Jonathan Khuner

Conductor Jonathan Khuner resides in Berkeley, but works at the major opera companies across the USA. He has been Musical Director of (Berkeley) West Edge Opera in the East Bay since 1985, and was its artistic director between 1994 and 2009. He has led over sixty-five productions there, most recently Hamlet in 2017. Khuner served as Assistant Conductor and prompter for San Francisco Opera (from 1981 to 2016), the Metropolitan Opera (since 1997), and the Lyric Opera of Chicago (since 1995). In 1996 he was also the prompter for the Ring Cycle at the Bayreuther Festspiele. In the Wagner bicentennial year 2013, he conducted a mini-Ring-Cycle for Minnesota Concert Opera, and also the nation of Albania’s first ever Wagner production – Tannhäuser, at their National Opera in Tirana. Besides appearing frequently as guest conductor with various California opera companies, Khuner also initiated an opera workshop performance course for the University of California at Berkeley (2001 – 2004). More recently he has been a frequent speaker for the San Francisco Opera’s outreach programs. He has given the pre-curtain talks on The Capulets and the Montagues and Ballo in Maschera. For the San Francisco Opera Guild Chapters he gave preview lectures for Turandot in 2017.


Production photo courtesy of San Francisco Opera    Cory Weaver, Photographer


June 30, 2018
5:00 am - 10:30 am


San Francisco Opera and The Wagner Society of Northern California

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