Q. WHAT DO BIRMINGHAM, BANKSY & AN OPERA BANNED BY STALIN HAVE IN COMMON?
A. RADICAL SET DESIGNERS and BANKSY COLLABORATORS, BLOCK9,
Banksy collaborators Block9, who created the dystopian fairy tale castle at the centre of Banksy’s Dismaland ‘bemusement park’ in 2015, bring their anarchic creativity to Birmingham this March with their first opera collaboration.
Stephen Gallagher and Gideon Berger, whose global track record includes Glastonbury Festival, Gorillaz, Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey, are joining forces with international opera director Graham Vick, the award-winning Birmingham Opera Company and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) to mount Shostakovich’s revolutionary opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the iconic Tower Ballroom Birmingham for a game-changing five performances between 9-17 March 2019 (7pm on 9, 11, 13, 15 & 17).
This unique artistic collaboration marks Birmingham Opera Company’s 50th production and is its most ambitious project yet. Rising star conductor Alpesh Chauhan returns to his home city to make his UK operatic debut at the helm of the CBSO.
Recognised for its unique and inclusive approach to opera that involves hundreds of local community volunteers, Birmingham Opera Company has recruited a 150 strong chorus drawn from the people of Birmingham for this new production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
The opera tells the dark and melodramatic tale of downtrodden housewife, Katerina, her rebellion and ensuing chain of lust, betrayal and murder. Written by the 26-year-old Shostakovich in 1932, it received a rapturous reception at its premiere that year but was soon banned by Joseph Stalin. Despite Stalin’s best efforts, Shostakovich's triple murderess has excited the hearts of audiences worldwide and wins success wherever she goes.
Birmingham Opera Company gathers together some of the biggest names from the world of opera: mezzo soprano Chrystal E Williams (#DNA and Hannah, The Ice Break) as Katerina; Baritone, Eric Greene, (recently Porgy in the ENO’s Porgy and Bess and four times soloist with the company including Khovanskygate, in which he was an unforgettable Prince Khovansky, Life is A Dream and #DNA) and Joshua Stewart (who was raised from the dead in Giorgio Battistelli’s Wake) are joined by international tenor Brenden Gunnell, making his Birmingham Opera Company debut.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is performed by the CBSO as part of the orchestra’s Baltic Way series and is paired with an all-Shostakovich programme conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla at Symphony Hall on 16 March.