LONDON — Graham Vick, a British opera director who labored at prestigious homes just like the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala whereas additionally looking for to broaden opera’s enchantment by staging works in deserted rock golf equipment and former factories and by bringing extra variety to casting, died on Saturday in London. He was 67.
The trigger was problems of Covid-19, the Birmingham Opera Firm, which he based, stated in a information launch.
Mr. Vick spent a lot of the coronavirus pandemic in Crete, Greece, and returned to Britain in June to participate in rehearsals for a Birmingham Opera manufacturing of Wagner’s “Das Rhinegold,” Jonathan Groves, his agent, stated in a phone interview.
Mr. Vick was inventive director on the firm, which he noticed as a car to carry opera to everybody. His productions there, which have been in English, usually included novice performers. And he insisted on retaining ticket costs low in order that anybody might attend, and on hiring singers who mirrored the ethnic variety of Birmingham, Britain’s second largest metropolis. His immersive manufacturing of Verdi’s “Otello” in 2009 featured Ronald Samm, the primary Black tenor to sing the title position in knowledgeable manufacturing in Britain.
The corporate by no means held V.I.P. receptions as a result of Mr. Vick believed that no viewers member must be seen as above every other.
“You don’t want to be educated to be touched, to be moved and excited by opera,” he stated in a speech on the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards in 2016. “You solely must expertise it immediately at first hand, with nothing getting in the best way.”
Opera makers should “take away the boundaries and make the connections that can launch its energy for everyone,” he added.
Oliver Mears, the Royal Opera Home’s director of opera, stated in a press release that Mr. Vick had been “a real innovator in the best way he built-in group work into our artwork type.”
“Many individuals from massively numerous backgrounds love opera — and first skilled it — via his work,” he stated.
Graham Vick was born on Dec. 30, 1953, in Birkenhead, close to Liverpool. His father, Arnold, labored in a clothes retailer, whereas his mom Muriel (Hynes) Vick labored within the personnel division of a manufacturing unit. His love of the stage bloomed at age 5 when he noticed a manufacturing of “Peter Pan.”
“It was an entire road-to-Damascus second,” he instructed The Occasions of London in 2014. “All the things was there — the flight via the window into one other world, a much bigger world.”
Opera gave him related alternatives to “fly, soar, breathe and scream,” he stated.
Mr. Vick studied on the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester, England, meaning to turn out to be a conductor. However he turned to directing and created his first manufacturing at 22. Two years later, he directed a manufacturing of Gustav Holst’s “Savitri” for Scottish Opera and shortly grew to become its director of productions.
With Scottish Opera, he rapidly confirmed his want to carry opera to native communities. He led Opera-Go-Spherical, an initiative through which a small troupe traveled to distant components of Scotland’s Highlands and islands, usually performing with simply piano accompaniment. He additionally introduced opera singers to factories to carry out throughout lunch breaks.
A few of his productions obtained blended and even harsh opinions. “Stalin was proper,” Edward Rothstein wrote in The Occasions in reviewing “Woman Macbeth of Mtsensk” in 1994, calling Mr. Vick’s manufacturing “crude, primitive, vulgar,” simply as Stalin had executed with Shostakovich’s unique. Simply as usually they have been praised, nonetheless.
Regardless of Mr. Vick’s success at conventional opera homes, he generally criticized them. “They’re enormous, glamorous, fabulous, seductive establishments, however they’re additionally a harmful black gap the place nice artwork can so simply turn out to be self-serving product,” he instructed the BBC in 2012.
Mr. Vick’s work on the Birmingham Opera Firm, which he based in 1987, was celebrated in Britain for its daring imaginative and prescient. Its first manufacturing, one other “Falstaff,” was staged inside a recreation middle within the metropolis; different productions occurred in a burned-out ballroom above a shopping mall and in an deserted warehouse.
Mr. Vick determined to make use of amateurs after rehearsing a Rossini opera in Pesaro, Italy, within the Nineties. It was so sizzling and airless sooner or later, he recalled in a 2003 lecture, that he opened the theater’s doorways to the road and was shocked to see a gaggle of youngsters cease their soccer recreation and watch, transfixed.
“To succeed in this sort of constituency in Birmingham, we determined to recruit members of the group into our work,” he stated. Individuals who purchased tickets ought to see reflections of themselves onstage and within the manufacturing workforce, he added.
Mr. Vick stored returning to Birmingham as a result of, he stated, it was solely there, “within the wonderful participation of viewers and performers,” that he felt complete.
The corporate was praised not just for its inclusivity. Its 2009 staging of “Otello” “will get you within the coronary heart and the heart,” Rian Evans wrote in The Guardian. And Mark Swed, in The Los Angeles Occasions, known as Mr. Vick’s manufacturing of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Mittwoch aus Licht” in 2012 “otherworldly.” (It included string gamers performing in helicopters and a camel, and was a part of Britain’s 2012 Olympic Video games celebrations.)
“If opera is supposed to vary your notion of what’s doable and worthwhile, to dream the unimaginable dream and all that, then that is clearly the spiritually uplifting technique to do it,” Mr. Swed added.
Mr. Vick, who died in a hospital, is survived by his associate, the choreographer Ron Howell, in addition to an older brother, Hedley.
In his speech on the Royal Philharmonic Society awards, Mr. Vick urged these within the opera world to “get out of our ghetto” and observe the Birmingham instance in attempting to mirror the group the place an organization is predicated.
Folks must “embrace the longer term and assist construct a world we wish to stay in,” he stated, “not disguise away fiddling whereas Rome burns.”