If you are looking for an opportunity to show off your singing or acting skills, Birmingham Opera Company wants to hear from you, the company has announced.
The company’s next project will be a new production of agitprop cantata The Decision (1930). A cantata is a sung vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment.
A radical and experimental form of modernist theatre, this highly political work – and at times controversial (the piece has been banned in several countries) – was written by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, with music by Austrian composer Hanns Eisler and direction by Bulgarian film director Slatan Dudow.
The Decision consists of eight sections in prose and unrhymed, free verse, with six major songs. Eisler’s score calls for a tenor soloist, three speakers or actors, a mixed choir (or SATB, standing for soprano, alto, tenor and bass) and a small orchestra. It involves choral pieces, speaking choir, recitatives and songs.
It tells the story of four agitators from Moscow. They have returned from a successful mission in China and are congratulated for their efforts by a central committee, called The Control Chorus.
However, they inform the committee that during their mission they were forced to kill a young comrade in order for their mission to succeed. They ask for judgement from the committee on their actions. The committee withholds its verdict until after the four agitators re-enact the events that led to the young comrade’s death.
Birmingham Opera Company has announced that there are several parts available for volunteers in the singing and acting choruses. There is no need to audition; potential performers simply need to register their interest, either as part of the singing chorus or the acting group.
These volunteer positions are open to everyone – whether they have no acting or singing experience or if they are a seasoned performer. The company will help performers learn the music by ear so they don’t need to be able to read music.
All performers will be provided with everything they need to be performance ready, including training, MP3 listening tracks and support from professional mentors, all for free. The company can also reimburse up to £4.60 in travel expenses for each rehearsal volunteers attend.
Rehearsals for the singing chorus start on 11 January, with further rehearsals taking place on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. For the acting group, rehearsals will start on 19 January, then taking place on Thursday evenings and a weekend afternoon.
Production rehearsals start in early February, and there will be extra rehearsals from 20 February. Performances of this new production by multi-award winning theatre and opera director Anthony Almeida take place from 2-5 March. Tickets go on sale later this month, with further details of the volunteer roles and rehearsals available from Birmingham Opera Company.
“We’re excited to share that our next project will be The Decision by Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler, directed by Anthony Almeida,” the company said in a statement. “The Decision relates to a lot of issues relevant in the news today such as the cost-of-living crisis and supply and demand. Performances will be in the first week of March in an as-yet secret venue in Birmingham.
“The Decision offers lots of opportunities for volunteers in the singing and acting chorus. If you or someone you know would like to get involved in the project, register your interest now. We’ve a recent new appointment to the team, Diandra McCalla, as creative producer. Diandra is really looking forward to meeting you all.”
Be part of Birmingham Opera Company’s new production of Brecht and Eisler’s agitprop cantata The Decision; the company is looking for volunteers to perform in the singing and acting choruses.