Wagner would have made a dreadful Neighbours scriptwriter. His “Previously in The Ring” at the start of Götterdämmerung is hardly snappy, as the three Norns wind the rope of destiny and give a lengthy exposition of the story thus far. Concision wasn't exactly Wagner's strength and, I confess, it's the length of this final work in the tetralogy that I find forbidding: the estimated duration for the Prologue and Act I in Opera North's concert staging here ran to just a few minutes shorter than last night's entire Trovatore at Covent Garden!

Kelly Cae Hogan (Brünnhilde) and Mati Turi (Siegfried) © Clive Barda
Kelly Cae Hogan (Brünnhilde) and Mati Turi (Siegfried)
© Clive Barda
These Wagnerites clearly take such things in their stride, treating the endurance test nature of The Ring with the same relish and gritty determination as those addicted to running marathons. You can see how the bug takes hold. In the long interval at Siegfried on Friday, an elderly gentleman proudly told a neighbour how this was his 82nd Ring. Even on the basis of one a year since birth, that's some achievement, even if did I ponder how much other operatic treasure he's missed out on in his obsessive-compulsive pursuit of Nibelung gold.

Crowning this cycle came a truly magnificent performance of Götterdämmerung, centred very much on Richard Farnes and his trusty orchestra. The outgoing Music Director of Opera North couldn't have gone out on a greater high than six Ring cycles this summer (one more to go in Gateshead next week) and his astute pacing and long-sighted vision of the work built surely and steadily to a pulsating Funeral March and a thrilling Immolation Scene. Some off-stage horn flubs in Siegfried's Rhine Journey apart, the orchestra played as if possessed, the steerhorns used to summon the vassals to Gibichung Hall in Act II bloodcurdling, as was the male chorus, assembling at Hagen's command.

Mati Turi (Siegfried) © Clive Barda
Mati Turi (Siegfried)
© Clive Barda

Estonian Mati Turi was a much stronger Siegfried than Lars Cleveman. His burly Heldentenor – not a clarion voice, but evenly produced – has an immediately exciting quality, aided by an amiable stage presence. Here's a wide-eyed, jolly Siegfried everyone would like to join for a pint down the pub. A big-hearted performance, Turi paced himself well and had just enough left in the tank for his narration before the dastardly Hagen stabbed him in the back. Kelly Cae Hogan, a dignified Brünnhilde throughout this Ring, sang tirelessly, in imperious voice for her Immolation Scene. I loved the slightly breathy, smoky quality to her lower register, and her top notes gleamed.

Jo Pohlheim (Alberich) and Mats Almgren (Hagen) © Clive Barda
Jo Pohlheim (Alberich) and Mats Almgren (Hagen)
© Clive Barda
Swedish bass Mats Almgren was again in saturnine voice, this time as Hagen, Alberich's son, bent on regaining the ring for the nibelungs. The only quibble with his singing is that his vibrato is so marked that his German diction veered towards the unintelligible. The scene where Hagen's dreams were haunted by Jo Pohlheim's creepy Alberich was the stuff of nightmares. Andrew Foster-Williams and Giselle Allen were fabulous as the Gibichung brother and sister Gunther and Gutrune, Allen in pearly voice, Foster-Williams giving a vivid portrayal of an utter coward. Heather Shipp's urgent, vehement Waltraute impressed, while bewitching Norns, veiled in black, and nicely flirtatious Rhinemaidens in midnight blue completed a splendid cast.

Peter Mumford's video panels continued to add a moody backdrop, culminating in ravens circling, raging flames and a becalmed Rhine rippling away at the close. I've found these atmospheric rather than obtrusive through the cycle, allowing the audience to focus on Wagner's music, so brilliantly interpreted.

Richard Farnes © Alice the camera
Richard Farnes
© Alice the camera

Experiencing these works in such a condensed timespan has been a wonderful Wagnerian immersion for someone who has approached this music tentatively. I doubt I'll clock up 82 Rings in my lifetime, but Opera North's magnificent achievement has made me hungry to hear it again soon, even in staged performances. Who'd have thought that a week ago?