How can opera speak in the 21st century?

"The future health of opera depends on it embracing the whole of contemporary society and that means being a part of it and being prepared to change as rapidly as society itself." - Graham Vick, 2003 

At the start of the new millennium, Alban Berg's Votzek was Birmingham's test case. 

Taking place in a dilapidated warehouse in Ladywood, Birmingham, the style of performance changed to promenade and bridged the divide between performers and audience.

More importantly, 120 people from the city became a part of the performance. A core group of 40 volunteer actors worked intensively with Graham Vick and the diverse soloists while 12 community groups from across the city developed and performed their own responses to the piece in the amazing musical interludes. 

And it worked - the audience was unlike any other opera audience - an excitingly broad range of people.  The performances sold out and the project moved on to site-specific venues, involving volunteers in Liverpool, Sheffield and Porto, Portugal representing the UK in the European Capital of Culture celebrations.

Keel Watson in Votzek (2001)

"I had no experience of opera before Votzek, and thought I disliked it, mainly because I could not understand it. But I decided to go with an open mind and loved every minute of it." - Audience Member 

"I was so proud to be a part of it and helped to create it." - Participant

Volunteer Actors after a performance. 

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