Opera Australia has announced that Richard Mills, conductor of its monumental Melbourne Ring Cycle, is withdrawing from the project after weeks of rehearsals, citing a lack of ‘unity of vision’. The $15m (Aus) production, directed by Neil Armfield, is due to launch in November in celebration of Wagner’s bicentenary. Thus far no replacement conductor has been announced.
‘Richard has a long and distinguished career with Opera Australia and we look forward to working with him again in the future and wish him continued success,’ said Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini in a statement on the company’s website. ‘I would also like to thank Richard for the outstanding work he has done on this project to this point.’
Australian conductor-composer Richard Mills added: ‘To achieve artistic success the chemistry between cast and conductor needs to be of a certain vibrancy and character. Unfortunately the necessary unity of vision for this piece on this occasion was not achieved. It is a matter of personal chemistry which cannot be planned for and which sometimes doesn't happen despite the best intentions of all concerned. Therefore in the interests of an outstanding cast and production, and after a great deal of thought, I have decided to withdraw. I have been completely supported by the team at Opera Australia at all times and this decision is mine alone. I wish the project the great success I am sure it will achieve as a landmark event in the history of opera in Australia.’
Opera Australia will present three complete cycles of the Ring from November 18 to December 13 at Arts Centre Melbourne, starring Susan Bullock as Brünnhilde, Terje Stensvold as Wotan, Stefan Vinke as Siegfried and Stuart Skelton as Siegmund.