London-based arts collective to present compact “Ring” cycle linking Wagner’s Nordic legend with Samoan history, climate change, and 1918 flu epidemic

Posted on: November 2, 2021

“Here is an insane undertaking: a small London-based arts collective, Gafa, run by singers of Samoan heritage, putting on a complete Ring cycle—four vast operas, almost 15 hours of music—in a church in Putney, southwest London,” writes Stephen Moss in Thursday’s (10/28) Guardian (U.K.). “Opera houses spend years plotting their Ring cycles…. Gafa (pronounced Nafa and meaning ‘family’ in Samoan), however, are performing all four of Wagner’s herculean works on successive Saturdays…. Sani Muliaumaseali’i [is] the co-founder of the collective and driving force behind the project… RinGafa is being presented as the Ring ‘in concert with movement.’ … Each opera has a Samoan subtext, usually expressed through dance or a specially written scene that draws parallels between Wagner’s great Nordic creation myth, with the gods’ love of power destroying them and Brünnhilde’s self-inflicted immolation ushering in suffering humanity, and the Pacific experience of western settlers usurping indigenous deities and imposing their own faith and values. Throw in a backcloth of the 1918 flu epidemic … brought to the islands by New Zealanders aboard the SS Talune, that killed 22% of Samoans, as well as allusions to climate change that threatens to overwhelm the islands, and you have a potent cocktail.”