In German opera, the greatest challenge to designers and directors is mounting a new production of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, not only because it involves a sequence of four operas, totaling some 16 hours of performance. The major problem is how to eclipse what has been done before. This is especially true at the Bayreuth Festival, founded by Wagner in 1876, with a purpose-built theatre to provide a unique showcase for his works. With the resumption of the annual festival after World War ...

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