Getting the Most out of the 'Ring'

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Byline: Scott Morgan Daily Herald Staff Writer

If you're thinking about getting tickets to the Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Ring" cycle, you're a little late. At press time, the Lyric's three complete "Ring" cycles were 99 percent sold out with only scattered single seats going fast.

Unless you want to brave scalpers and any chances of turned-back tickets, the Chicago "Ring" is out. So is Seattle Opera's "Ring" revival this August (tickets sold out a year in advance).

As any Wagner fan knows, you must tactically plan ahead far in advance to get "Ring" tickets. For example, tickets to the Lyric "Ring" were on sale about a year in advance with a priority deadline of May 31, 2004, for subscribers.

A year's planning time is nothing compared to planning a trip to the ultimate Wagner pilgrimage site at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in Germany, where the "Ring" premiered in 1876. Officially, Bayreuth has a 10-year waiting list and ticket lottery to see any Wagner opera, let alone the four-opera "Ring."

Despite these obstacles, there are many ways to get into the "Ring," Wagner fans said.

Helga Strasser of Rochester, N.Y., suggests getting a subscription to magazines like Opera News or Opera, both of which feature news and ads by opera companies touting upcoming seasons that include "Ring" cycles.

An even better suggestion she offers is to join one or two chapters of a Wagner Society. Most good societies put out regular newsletters keeping their members informed of what's going on.

More importantly for die-hard fans, membership in a Wagner Society increases the chances of getting tickets to Bayreuth without the 10-year wait.

"All Wagner societies get an allotment of tickets to Bayreuth each year," said Bill Smith, president of the Chicago-area Wagner Society of America. "From that they get parceled out as fairly as possible to members based on seniority and availability. …