Past Productions Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Shostakovich) | 2019 "As the walls close in around us it is a time not to bury our heads in the sand but to look ourselves directly in the eye." That's what director Graham Vick had to say in relation to Birmingham Opera Company's 50th production, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Shostakovich's epic opera was famously banned by Stalin in 1936, despite huge international success in Russia and abroad. It wasn't performed again for 25 years. Fast forward to March 2019 and to the Tower Ballroom, an iconic but disused nightclub by Edgbaston Reservoir. Birmingham Opera Company reopened the doors to stage Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. For five sold-out performances, audiences came face to face with bloodied brides, rats, mourners, wedding guests, axes, poison and "a turkey-cock in leopardprint smalls" (that'd be The Lover, Brenden Gunnell, making his Birmingham Opera Company debut in the role). Our collaborators included a chorus and actors comprising over 150 Brummies, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, an on-stage band from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and a cast of outstanding international principals. Alpesh Chauhan conducted, making his UK operatic debut, and the space was "artfully trashed" by Block9, radical set design duo working here on their first ever opera. Watch some short clips from the production below! The Story The Wife and her Husband are tyrannised by the Father in Law, bitter that they have not bred him a grandchild. When the Husband leaves on business, the Wife takes a lover - a new worker. The Father in Law finds out and whips the Lover to the brink of death. The Wife poisons her Father in Law. Determined to make her new found happiness last, she kills the Husband, hides the body and marries the Lover. The Police, unhappy at not being invited to the wedding, crash the party and find the body. In prison, the Wife finds out exactly who she has married. Chrystal E Williams as The Wife The Production Libretto A Preis and D Shostakovich After the short story by Nikolai Leskov English version based on the translation by David Pountney Conductor Alpesh Chauhan Director Graham Vick Design Block9 Movement Director Ron Howell Lighting Design Giuseppe Di Iorio Chorus Master Jonathan Laird Birmingham Opera Company Chorus and Actors City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra The Cast The Wife Chrystal E Williams The Priest James Ioelu The Father in Law Eric Greene The Father in Law's Ghost Eric Greene The Husband Joshua Stewart The Chief of Police Quentin Hayes The Lover Brenden Gunnell The Arresting Officer Themba Mvula The Engineer Themba Mvula The Socialist Edward Harrisson The Driver Dominick Felix The Drunken Guest Dominick Felix The Maid Grace Nyandoro The Prison Guards Themba Mvula, James Ioelu The Seedy Lout James Kryshak The Prisoner Eric Greene The Porter Andrew Clarke The Pole Dancer Lilly Papaioannou The Steward James Ioelu The Other Woman Grace Nyandoro The Three Foremen Andrew Clarke, Dominick Felix, Jack Sandison Andrew Clark as The Porter, with chorus members Reactions The audiences were as enthusiastic as the press: "Blew me away." "Talk about making the inaccessible accessible. And nuts. And just plain awesome really." "Now THAT'S how you do opera." Lily Papaioannou as The Pole Dancer Get closer Download your FREE Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk e-book. Curious about volunteering as a performer? Register your interest to be in a show. Support Us Did you know that productions like Lady Macbeth are the tip of the iceberg? Our productions are underpinned by over 100 smaller events across the city every year. We are extremely grateful to Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and to the many Trusts, Foundation and individuals who generously support our work. If you want to play a part in creating world-class work that inspires thousands from Birmingham and beyond, make a donation.