Thursday 26 March 2015

Tippett's Ice Break

I first heard Tippett's opera The Ice Break when it was performed in concert at the Proms in 1990 woth Heather Harper coming out of retirement to sing the role of Nadia (a role she had created) and David Wilson-Johnson demonstrating his versatility by singing both in the Tippett and in Handel's Belshazzar during the same week. The opera really has not been seen much of since, and Tippett's own libretto is very much to blame and it is felt by some to be curious and dated. The setting is very 'contemporary' and nothing has dated so much as Tippett's literary attempts to be contemporary. But I remember being extremely impressed by the power of the music.

Now, Graham Vick and his enterprising Birmingham Opera Company are reviving the piece for a run of performances 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 April 2015 in an inner city warehouse in Birmingham. Graham Vick directs and the conductor is Andrew Gourlay, with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a chorus of 150 singing and acting volunteers drawn from communities across the city. The performance is a promenade style one, taking place in the B12 Warehouse (ticket holders are advised of the exact location on booking). As should be expected from this group, this will be no ordinary performance; the audience is advised that they should be prepared with warm clothes, as it may be cold, and wear suitable footwear. The cast includes Nadine Benjamin in the role of Nadia.

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