We have been devastated by the loss of our Artistic Director, Sir Graham Vick, and touched by the tributes and messages that have reached us from all over the world.

Sir Graham Vick, Artistic Director of Birmingham Opera Company, died on 17th July 2021 of complications arising from Covid 19. He had been in hospital since June after testing positive for the virus in advance of RhineGold rehearsals which he undertook online from home.

Every person whose life he has touched, through his passion for opera and belief that it could speak to everyone, will mourn his loss. He treated everyone the same from principal singers to community volunteers, stage management and crew, audiences and donors. VIP receptions were never held at Birmingham Opera Company, for he believed that no one was more or less important than anyone else.

Graham created Birmingham Opera Company from the fledgling City of Birmingham Touring Opera in 2000 in order to share the transformative power of top-quality opera with the many and not the few. Continuing his international work in the world’s leading opera houses, he always returned to his creative home, Birmingham. He threw open the doors to the peoples of the city who came to discover what Graham himself had discovered as a boy on a life-changing visit to the Liverpool Empire. In the derelict factories, parks and urban spaces of Birmingham, everyone was welcome, not just as spectator but participant with no selection process other than a commitment to turn up and take part. From 16 to 90 year olds, they volunteered in their hundreds, committing to arduous and inspiring rehearsals resulting in unique, ground-breaking productions that have taken Birmingham’s name across the globe as an innovator.

Many people owe him their careers, others their wellbeing.


Symphony Hall Birmingham, Saturday 31st July and Monday 2nd August 2021

In Memory of Sir Graham Vick, 30th December 1953 – 17th July 2021

For the last two years Sir Graham Vick had been planning to direct Wagner’s RhineGold in Birmingham to mark the 30th anniversary of when he staged the full Ring Cycle in the city. He had gathered the creative team and cast and, although unwell, was able to direct rehearsals for the first few days whilst self-isolating at his home. Sadly, just days into rehearsals he was taken ill with Covid and was unable to attend rehearsals in Birmingham.

Since the devastating news of his death at the weekend, Birmingham Opera Company has taken the decision to go ahead with two performances of RhineGold at Symphony Hall Birmingham on 31st July and 2nd August.

In recent weeks our Music Director, Alpesh Chauhan, Executive Director, Richard Willacy  (in his capacity as Graham’s Associate Director for many years in Birmingham), Designer Stuart Nunn and Lighting Designer Matthew Richardson, Project Director Sheelagh Barnard and our team of Associate Artists and Assistant Directors have been rehearsing with our brilliant cast and volunteers.   Almost every person involved in the production has worked with Graham on past productions and he will be with us in spirit through each performance which will be dedicated to his memory. 

Thank you Graham for all that you have given us, Birmingham and the world of opera.