Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle

Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle opera is told from the point of view of the union stagehands at the San Francisco Opera.

Independent Lens
Premiere Date
September 1, 1999
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2000 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Outstanding Informational or Cultural Programming
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Sundance Film Festival-Grand Jury Prize
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Sundance Film Festival-Filmmaker's Trophy, Documentary Competition
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Film Arts Foundation-Joady Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 NY Festivals-Gold World Medal
  • Producer

    Jon Else

    Jon Else is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose film The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb won the first-ever documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1980 and has been broadcast repeatedly around the globe for the past 28 years. It is used widely in schools, universities, and institutions including the Show more Pentagon, the CIA, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. A MacArthur Fellow from 1988 to 1993 and winner of four National Emmys for writing, producing, directing, and cinematography, Else also produced and directed Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven; Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature; Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle; Open Outcry; and part of the PBS series The Great Depression. Other honors include several Alfred I. DuPont, Polk, and Peabody awards, the Prix Italia, the Sundance Special Jury Prize and Sundance Filmmaker’s Trophy as well as several Academy Award nominations. Else just returned from Afghanistan after doing camera work for a PBS documentary about that country’s new constitution called Democracy Afghan Style. Else received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and his Master’s degree in communication from Stanford University. He currently heads the documentary program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and directs the university’s experimental Center for New Documentary. Show less

    We fund untold stories for public media.

    Learn more about funding opportunities with ITVS.

    The Film

    With its four operas and 17-hour running time, staging Wagner's Ring Cycle is a daunting undertaking for any opera company. Sing Faster goes backstage at the San Francisco Opera to capture this rare event from a unique perspective: the stagehands' point of view. From Rhinemaidens, Valkyries and giant dragons, to poker games and smoke machines, these behind-the-scenes stars lead us through their own version of the operatic spectacle.