Under the most complicated circumstances, when the world seems impossibly dark, Leonore takes her life into her own hands. She risks everything to save her politically imprisoned husband Florestan - and sets herself free. 

Donna Bateman (Marzelline) and Jane Leslie MacKenzie (Leonore) in Fidelio (2002).

Building on the overwhelmingly positive response of volunteers who collaborated on Votzek in 2001, over 200 people from Birmingham took part as actors or in the chorus. Participating in the incredible sound world of Beethoven's only opera, they shared and performed their own imprisonments - and experienced freedom. 

Volunteer actors in Fidelio (2002).

In the interval, every audience member was issued with a numbered black bag. At that point in the performance, they had already been subjected to violence by riot police, had been imprisoned and then released. They were already a part of the performance. When they returned to the tent, they had to find their numbers and stand on them. On instruction, you had to place the black bag over your heard. Sharing Florestan's experience of imprisonment in darkness, every audience member stood for nine minutes, beyond reach, in complete darkness, listening, until the words "Leonore's coming". That was their cue to remove the hoods as Leonore - and Beethoven - brought the light of hope into their darkness. 

Volunteer Actors emerging from the set in Act 3. 

"What our work is trying to do is not only involve and excite audiences, it's trying to take forward and experiment and push the boundaries of the art form itself - of how we might perform it, explore it, be excited by it." - Graham Vick

 

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