Arts & Culture

Seattle Opera launches a new “Ring” cycle CD set and the International Wagner Competition

Wagner-lovers might be missing their dose of live opera this year, but Seattle Opera (which performs the mammoth four-opera cycle every four years) makes up for it with two Wagner events: a new recording of last year’s “Ring,” and the company’s International Wagner Competition, live in McCaw Hall next Thursday night.

The competition, now in its third incarnation, pits eight of the world’s best Wagner singers younger than 40 against each other to win up to $60,000, awarded by audience, orchestra and judging panel. Each singer will perform two selections from the Wagner canon accompanied by live orchestra; performers include sopranos Helen Dix, Marcy Stonikas and Tamara Mancini, mezzo Suzanne Hendrix, tenors Ric Furman, Kevin Ray and Issachah Savage and bass baritone Roman Ialcic. Dubbed “Wagner Idol” by opera insiders, the competition will this year serve as a send-off for retiring Seattle Opera director Speight Jenkins, with a celebratory concert and dinner the following weekend.

The competition begins at 7 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle. Tickets are $46-$66. 800-426-1619,

Meanwhile, the 2013 “Der Ring des Nibelungen“ is the opera company’s first live audio recording, and its first recording of Wagner’s epic opera cycle about the Norse gods and their downfall. Released in June, the recording was made last year in McCaw Hall with a specially calibrated custom microphone system that captures the big, dramatic voices required for this music. Available as a 14-CD box set, digital download or online streaming, the recording features Greer Grimsley (Wotan), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka, Second Norn and Waltraute), Stuart Skelton (Siegmund) and Alwyn Mellor (Brűnnhilde) among others, and captures what Jenkins calls the best “Ring” he produced in his 31 years with the company.

The recording is available for $150 through, commercially through, and in box set from Sept. 9.