Opera is back in Melbourne – in a big way, with this fully staged Das Rheingoldat one of the city’s largest theatres. The new Melbourne Opera production begins a Ringcycle that will continue over the next few years, culminating in the entire cycle’s presentation in 2023. It’s an audacious pandemic project for the independent company, which has taken many significant steps forward on the stage in recent years.

Das Rheingoldis more a bold leap. Directed by Suzanne Chaundy, who has led Melbourne Opera’s move into big-stage Wagnerian works over the past five years, this production is ambitious without overreaching. Before an 80-strong orchestra, the accomplished all-Australian cast inhabits a set of monumental simplicity, starting Wagner’s complex, symbolic four-part saga with musical and narrative clarity.

Melbourne Opera Das Rheingold James Egglestone, Lee Abrahmsen, Jason Wasley, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, Sarah Sweeting and Darcy Carroll in Melbourne Opera’s  Das Rheingold. Photo © Robin Halls

After excerpts were performed in Vienna in 1862, Das Rheingoldpremiered in Munich in 1869. The Ring’s preliminary one-act (150-minute) work opens with the Niebelung dwarf Alberich renouncing love...