Epic, acclaimed and groundbreaking opera now online

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 8:15 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 8:16 am

Birmingham Opera Company will be sharing some of its ground-breaking and acclaimed work online in the coming weeks.

The organisation, renowned for its radical, bold and immersive productions that put the audience at the very heart of the action, is making available its 2015 production of Tippett’s The Ice Break on OperaVision, its 2012 production of Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht on its own website and its 2009 production of Verdi’s Otello on BBC iPlayer.

The Ice Break takes place in a warehouse in Digbeth, Birmingham, performed by professional musicians and singers alongside a huge volunteer cast of hundreds from right across the local area. The production attracted more than 5,000 people, 98 per cent of whom had never seen the company’s work before, and many who had never heard of it.

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The original story opens in an airport where Lev is reunited with his wife Nadia and son Yuri who have emigrated and wait for his return. Yuri’s girlfriend also waits in the airport for a famous athlete who she is in awe of.

Jealous Yuri attacks the athlete causing events to spiral out of control and sparking racist attacks, violence and acts of brutality across the city.

The Ice Break can be seen now at operavision.eu/en and is available until the end of July.

Members of the audience and cast in the Birmingham Opera Company production of Michael Tippet’s The Ice Break (photo: Donald Cooper)

The company will also present its joyous production of Mittwoch aus Licht. Previously thought to be unstageable owing to the inclusion of flying instrumentalists and string quartet in helicopters, it finally reached its world premiere in Birmingham after two decades of failed attempts by opera houses across the world.

It will be available on the Birmingham Opera Company website and Vimeo channel on July 4 and 5.

The opera does not have a traditional plot but instead has four scenes plus a Greeting and a Farewell, along with virtuoso instrumentalists and soloists, choirs Ex Cathedra and London Voices, Elysian String Quartet, Sound Intermedia and Birmingham Opera Company volunteer performers. They are surrounded by electronic music exploring love and solidarity.

Originally part of London 2012, the immersive five-hour experience was mounted in a disused chemical factory and live-streamed all over the world.

Birmingham Opera Company was the first company to ever stage a full performance of the opera, won the UK opera “Oscar”, the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Opera, and was listed in the events of the decade in The New Yorker.

And Birmingham Opera Company’s groundbreaking immersive promenade production of Verdi’s Otello from 2009 is now available on iPlayer.

The production, when it premiered over a decade ago with Ronald Samm as Otello, was the first ever in the UK with a black singer in the role of Othello alongside black singer Keel Watson playing the white racist, Iago, another first in the UK.

Visit www.birminghamopera.org.uk for more information about the company and its work.