Friday 9 October 2020

Birmingham Opera Company to stage Das Rheingold in a disused metalworks

Historic photo of the Tubeworks, Birmingham
Historic photo of the Tubeworks, Birmingham

Ever since the Centenary Ring at Bayreuth in 1976, when Patrice Chéreau famously staged the tetralogy in the context of 19th century capitalism and industrialism with Richard Peduzzi's sets bringing industrial monuments onto the stage, it has been common for stagings of the Ring bring out the work's commentary on 19th century industrialism. But for their 2021 production of Wagner's Das Rheingold, Graham Vick and Birmingham Opera Company plan to perform go even further, and perform the work in a 19th century industrial monument. 

The new production will take place in a disused metalworks, The Tubeworks on Icknield Port Loop, which is set to be developed into a community and cultural hub. The production will be conducted by Birmingham Opera Company's newly appointed music director, Alpesh Chauhan with a diverse international cast and volunteer local performers. Now I have to confess that usually, if Das Rheingold is performed alone without the rest of the Ring, the prospect does not appeal particularly, but the idea of one of Birmingham Opera Company's thrilling productions in an old industrial monument is rather appealing.

The cast includes Eric Greene as Wotan (Greene seems to be expanding his Wagner range, having previously sung Donner and Gunther for English National Opera and Opera North), Brenden Gunnell  as Loge (Gunnell sang the Lover in Birmingham Opera Company's 2019 production of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), Ross Ramgobin  as Alberich (Ramgobin sang Yuri in Birmingham Opera Company's 2015 production of Tippett's The Icebreak), Chrystal E Williams as Fricka (Willams sang the Wife in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) with Francesca Chiejina (Freia), Amar Muchhala (Froh), Byron Jackson (Donner), Gweneth-Ann Rand (Erda), Keel Watson (Fasolt) and Andrew Slater (Fafner).

To help fund the production, the company has launched a Going for Gold campaign, where all donations through the Fedora platform will be matched by a generous grant from the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK) to a maximum of 45,000 Euros.

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