Ring Festival: Opening Salute

Friday, March 5 at 1pm PST on Zoom

On-demand recording available to ticket holders 24 hours after airing

Open to subscriber and donor Festival Pass holders and All-Access Festival Pass holders only. Eligible pass holders, check your email for more information.


Ring conductor Donald Runnicles, director Francesca Zambello, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley (Wotan) open the festival with an intimate talk about the Company’s 2018 production moderated by General Director Matthew Shilvock

Following the talk, former Metropolitan Opera Company Manager and longtime panelist on the Met Opera Radio Quiz, Stephen A. Brown tests the knowledge of the featured guests (and the audience!) with a Wagner quiz. Who do you think will win?

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About Donald Runnicles

Donald Runnicles is the General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, as well as Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 Runnicles also took up post as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Principal Guest Conductor. He additionally holds the title of Conductor Emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, having served as Chief Conductor from 2009–16. Runnicles enjoys close and enduring relationships with many of the leading opera companies and symphony orchestras, and he is especially celebrated for his interpretations of Romantic and post-Romantic repertoire, which are core to his musical identity.

Donald Runnicles’ previous posts include Music Director of the San Francisco Opera (1992–2008), during which he led world premieres of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, Conrad Susa's Les Liaisons dangereuses, and the U.S. premiere of Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise; Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke's (2001–07); and General Music Director of the Theater Freiburg and Orchestra (1989–93).

About Francesca Zambello

FRANCESCA ZAMBELLO is an internationally recognized director of opera and theater, as well as General Director of the Glimmerglass Festival since 2010 and Artistic Director of Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center since 2012. Both organizations have thrived artistically and financially while increasing their national and international profiles as a result of her vision and leadership. She also served as the Artistic Advisor to the San Francisco Opera from 2005-2011 and as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Theater from 1987-1992.

Her U.S. directing debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe, Asia, Australia, Russia and the USA. She has worked at over fifty international opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Bolshoi, Munich State Opera, Covent Garden and Opera Australia. 

She has been named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, a Knight with the Order of the Star of Italy and received the Russian Federation’s Arts Medal, all for her service to culture. Other honors include three Olivier Awards from the London Society of Theatres and two Evening Standard Awards, and she has twice received the French Grand Prix des Critiques for her work at the Paris Opera. She also received the Medallion Society Award from San Francisco Opera, recognizing 30 years’ work for the company.

An American who grew up in Europe, Ms. Zambello speaks French, Italian, German, and Russian. She attended Moscow University in 1976 and graduated cum laude from Colgate University in 1978. She has served as an adjunct professor at Yale University. Zambello lives in New York City and Cooperstown, NY with her wife, Faith Gay, a founding partner at Selendy and Gay, and son, Jackson.

About Greer Grimsley

Greer Grimsley is internationally recognized as an outstanding singing actor and one of the most prominent Wagnerian singers of our day. He made is San Francisco Opera debut as Scarpia in the 2001 production of Tosca and returned as Count Monterone (Rigoletto), Jokanaan (Salome), in the title role of Der Fliegende Holländer, and most recently in 2018 as Wotan in three complete cycles of Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung (Der Ring des Nibelungen). Continuing his reign as a leading interpreter of the god Wotan, he sang the eminent role once again in Spring 2019 for The Metropolitan Opera’s reprisal of Robert Lepage’s landmark production from 2013. His interpretation of Wotan has also brought him to multiple esteemed international opera houses; some highlights of this include his portrayal of the role in the entirety of the Ring with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Comunale di Bologna under Gatti’s baton, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, New National Theatre Tokyo, the Nikikai Opera Foundation in Tokyo, and for Seattle Opera in three complete cycles over the past decade.

In 2018, he made his long-awaited début at the Bayreuther Festspiele as the title role in The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) and as Wotan in Die Walküre, his performance as the Dutchman praised for its “particular humanity,” subsequently returning Summer 2019 as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde. Other recent engagements include the title role in The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) with Dallas Opera and a return to the Teatro Real in Madrid for their production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold.

About Stephen A. Brown

A Londoner with a degree from the Royal College of Music, Stephen A. Brown then studied at Covent Garden's young artists' programme at the London Opera Centre, afterwards working at the Royal National Theatre. He then spent 38 years at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, first as Stage Manager responsible for over seventy new productions, revivals and telecasts (including Wagner’s Ring cycle), before becoming Company Manager for 20 years, before retiring in 2017.


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