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Birmingham Opera Company Launch Bold New Mission Wagner’s RhineGold Led By Music Director Alpesh Chauhan For Summer 2021

01 October 2020

Birmingham Opera Company today launch their next bold mission; Wagner’s RhineGold with an international cast and local volunteer performers led by Artistic Director Graham Vick and newly appointed Music Director Alpesh Chauhan in August 2021.  And, as ever, it is opera for our times.

The Lord of the Gods, maker of laws is in trouble. To shore up his own delusional ambitions and hang on to the Gods’ fading glory he chooses to break the very law which holds all races in balance. Mother Nature warns that greed for power will bring its own destruction. No-one listens.

Well known for presenting work in their home city’s abandoned buildings, sometimes a factory, a nightclub, an ice rink, this time the Rhine is canal-side in the 100,000 sq ft The Tubeworks on Icknield Port Loop. Performed in a disused  metalworks audiences will get a unique Brummie take on the original myth of the forging of the golden ring. The audience will physically move with the action, experiencing the opera by being a part of it.

Birmingham Opera Company’s occupation of The Tubeworks in partnership with Urban Splash will launch a new life for the currently empty industrial site which is to be transformed as part of a brand new 43 acre urban development. The site, once a powerhouse of the country’s industrial revolution, will embed the production directly within the city’s past, highlight the present and look directly to the future.



Graham Vick, Artistic Director, Birmingham Opera Company said “I’m very excited that 30 years on from The Ring Saga we can now plan full scale Wagner in Birmingham - and cast Gods, Dwarves and Giants largely from the diverse group of singers whom we have been nurturing. This revolutionary political satire is also a great show piece for our new Music Director and for the marvellous CBSO. From the murky depths of the unconscious to self-serving promises of castles in the air and the voice of a planet facing its own destruction - it could’ve been written now.”

Alpesh Chauhan, Music Director, Birmingham Opera Company said “I'm delighted that we announce RhineGold as our next big project at Birmingham Opera Company  - which will be my first in the new Music Director title. We have a stellar international line-up of soloists, boosted by the incredible forces of the CBSO and the people of Birmingham who volunteer to be a part of our creativity, all alongside the BOC team which is a hugely exciting prospect to make this opera come to life in its immersive setting in Brum. This work is a staple of the core operatic repertoire, and I look forward to bringing Wagner's masterpiece to life alongside Graham Vick's imaginative brilliance.

More details including on sale and production dates will be announced in due course.

The cast, announced today will include: Eric Greene (Wotan); Brenden Gunnell (Loge); Chrystal E Williams (Fricka); Francesca Chiejina (Freia); Amar Muchhala (Froh); Byron Jackson (Donner); Gweneth-Ann Rand (Erda); Ross Ramgobin (Alberich); Keel Watson (Fasolt); Andrew Slater (Fafner).

On what is an ambitious journey to RhineGold and with many artists and companies struggling, the company are pleased to announce that the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK) will lend their support to Birmingham Opera Company’s “Going for Gold” fundraising appeal by matching donations on the Fedora platform. Birmingham Opera Company’s Going for Gold Campaign is one of four nominees for the Fedora Education Prize 2020 (which also offers a further competitive prize worth Euro 50,000).  The match appeal launches 5 October and ends 30 October. 

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa said “In this year above all, my primary concern is the well-being of those talented artists now embarking on careers against such insuperable odds.  It is not just opportunities to earn enough to live, but the chance to practise and improve the craft in which they have invested so much time and dedication.  So, Birmingham Opera Company’s intensive coaching by top mentors and challenging rehearsal process offers a lifeline, which I know will be eagerly grasped by those singers selected.  I for one can hardly wait to experience the result next summer.”



As part of the campaign, the company are to hold a number of online Q & A events with Artistic Director Graham Vick and Music Director Alpesh Chauhan. They also intend to launch their first donor syndicate on World Opera Day weekend 24th/25th October to support RhineGold. Any potential supporters are encouraged to get in touch direct with Birmingham Opera Company.

Birmingham Opera Company makes work at this highest artistic level whilst reflecting the city they work in – with audiences, artists and stories. They were recently awarded a rare ‘Outstanding’ rating in the Arts Council England’s Creative Case for Diversity.


Going for Gold

Fidelio and World Opera Day
Birmingham Opera Company’s Beethoven’s Fidelio
, a story of personal, political and social lockdown and freedom will feature on OperaVision on 24 October to celebrate World Opera Day. The film is streamed at 1900 (CEST) and preceded by a Q and A with artists including director Graham Vick at 1800 (CEST). Birmingham Opera Company’s Fidelio was originally transmitted to celebrate the launch of BBC4 in 2002 and won The South Bank Show Award for Opera.

About Birmingham Opera Company
BIRMINGHAM OPERA COMPANY succeeds at the highest artistic level. We win the industry’s most prestigious awards, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Opera and Music Theatre for Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht/Wednesday from Light in 2012 and for Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 2019. International success has come with the prize for Best New Production at the International Opera Awards for Khovanskygate: A National Enquiry in 2015 against strong competition from the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House, and more recently in 2019 with Mittwoch appearing in The New Yorker’s Events of the Decade.

With no fixed venue, the small team works to deliver 100 free events year-round on the front line with 50 community partners across the city; they're always working behind the scenes and never more than a few feet away from you. Once a year it all comes together.

Their work constantly attracts new audiences and draws some of the world’s most exciting artists to Birmingham. They train hundreds of volunteer participants to create large-scale performances in an extraordinary  spaces.

Artistic Director Graham Vick leads the Company. In demand over the world and working with many of the greatest singers in major opera houses, Graham is established as one of the foremost opera directors of our times. His productions have been seen at La Scala, Milan; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Mariinsky Opera, St Petersburg; Maggio Musicale, Florence and many more. He has won many international awards including the Premio Abbiati in Italy and The South Bank Show Award. His pioneering work in Birmingham has attracted the attention of people and companies worldwide. Birmingham Opera Company is now seen to be at the forefront of the modernisation of opera and a pioneer in its development as a 21st-century art form.

Taking the lead with Graham Vick is 29-year-old Alpesh Chauhan, our new Music Director, himself forging a great international career conducting opera and who made his UK opera debut in our 2019 production Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

KIRI TE KANAWA gained legendary status almost overnight after her sensational debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971.  From then, she moved rapidly into the front rank of international opera and is one of the most famous sopranos in the world.

THE KIRI TE KANAWA FOUNDATION is a legally registered charitable trust, established to realise the vision of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to provide financial support, career assistance and guidance to singers with exceptional potential to support their aspirations to develop international careers at the highest level.

FEDORA - The European Circle of Philanthropists of Opera and Ballet aims at supporting the renewal of opera and ballet. As an association made up of philanthropists from all over Europe, we wish to gather opera and ballet enthusiasts, who share the same vision of excellence.

URBAN SPLASH is an award-winning regeneration company making exceptional places for people to live and work. Urban Splash has a proud history of supporting artists in our communities. Culture should be available on our doorsteps, for, by, and with the community. The collaboration with Birmingham Opera Company builds on the already exciting artist led collaborations at our Port Loop community in Birmingham. 

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