Richard Mills has withdrawn from conducting Opera Australia's long sold-out Ring cycle this autumn, citing a lack of "chemistry" with the cast.
In a statement, Mills said, "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. "
Mills had been working on the project for two years with Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini and director Neil Armfield. Terracini denies that there was any conflict between conductor and director. Problems only became apparent when singers began rehearsals recently.
The inevitable question - who's the Wagnerian kryptonite? I think we can rule out the genial Susan Bullock, Australia's Brünnhilde. That leaves, amongst many others, Terje Stensvold (Wotan), Stefan Vinke (Siegfried), Stuart Skelton (Siegmund) and John Wegner (Alberich), none of whom are noted for inflammatory posturing. But they are all highly experienced with Wagner, something which Mills, for all his other credentials, is not. Terracini's decision to now bring in someone with experience conducting the Ring should prove popular with the cast.