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Birmingham opera production shortlisted for opera ‘Oscar’

The Unhappy Couple – Brenden Gunnell & Chrystal E Williams – Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Birmingham Opera Company

Birmingham Opera Company’s critically acclaimed production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk which ran for five sell out performances at the Tower Ballroom, Birmingham in March this year, has been shortlisted for a 2019 Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Opera and Music Theatre category which recognises the Best Production staged in the last year. Lady Macbeth is nominated alongside the Royal Opera and The Second Violinist by the Irish National Opera and Landmark Productions.

The darkly comic and controversial Shostakovich opera directed by BOC Artistic Director Graham Vick CBE saw the iconic but now disused venue grimily transformed by Banksy collaborators, Block 9.

Birmingham born conductor, 29 year old Alpesh Chauhan led a 78 strong CBSO (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a banda of 14 undergraduate musicians from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. A cast of international principals including mezzo soprano Chrystal E Williams as Katerina, the downtrodden housewife, Baltimore baritone, Eric Greene, as her tyrannical father in law and tenor Brenden Gunnell as her lover, supported by 150 volunteer actors and chorus members drawn from the local community, drew unanimous praise from audiences and critics.

The shortlist announcement was made live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune programme this evening, Monday 7th October (1700 – 1900) and on Twitter @RoyalPhilSoc #RPSAwards. The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, widely regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of classical music, will take place at Battersea Arts Centre on 28th November 2019. 2019 marks their 30th anniversary.

Richard Willacy, Executive Director of BOC said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted that the production, our 50th and most ambitious to date, has been recognised by the RPS. It was real collaboration between Birmingham Opera Company, the CBSO and Block9 and it showcased some of the world’s most exciting music talent as well as introducing this anarchic masterpiece to a whole new audience.”

It isn’t the first Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Award for BOC. In 2013, the company’s prestigious Cultural Olympiad project, the six hour Mittwoch Aus Licht took the RPS Award for Opera and Music Theatre. The company which draws on hundreds of volunteers from the local community as actors and chorus is also twice winner of the society’s New Audience Development Award. Its philosophy that opera is for everyone, irrespective of age, class or cultural background, has led the way for many like-minded projects and companies globally.

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