City staging opera world premiere for London 2012 festival

By on 13/03/2012 in News

Birmingham Opera Company today announced the first complete performances of MITTWOCH/WEDNESDAY - the final opera of Karlheinz Stockhausen's monumental opera cycle LICHT/LIGHT – as part of the London 2012 Festival this summer.

This will be the first time that all six parts of this opera featuring two choirs, flying solo instrumentalists, live electronic and acoustic music and a string quartet streamed live from four flying helicopters will be staged together. It has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, which is a principal funder of the London 2012 Festival, and from Birmingham City Council.

The performance of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT/WEDNESDAY FROM LIGHT, which lasts approximately 5 hours, will take place in August as part of the London 2012 Festival at the Argyle Works, a former chemical plant in the middle of Birmingham and the venue for Birmingham Opera Company's production of Verdi's Othello which was broadcast on BBC2.

Millions will also be able to interact with the production through The Space - a new digital arts media service from Arts Council England and the BBC, which will be accessible free of charge via the internet, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.

Internationally acclaimed opera director, Graham Vick, leads his award-winning Birmingham Opera Company featuring over 150 performers, Radio 1 DJ Nihal and a distinguished creative team. Kathinka Pasveer, Stockhausen's long-time collaborator, is Music Director and the line-up includes Birmingham's Ex Cathedra and London Voices with an array of virtuoso orchestral soloists as well as local performers recruited and trained through the company's award-winning participation programme.

Mike Whitby, Leader, Birmingham City Council, said: “I’m delighted that the world premiere of this production will take place right here in Birmingham and will be a major highlight of the London 2012 Festival’s Olympic celebrations. The production of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT (WEDNESDAY FROM LIGHT), by the outstanding Birmingham Opera Company, will attract audiences from across the world – as well as from across Birmingham and the Midlands. When the eyes of the world are on the UK this will be an excellent showcase for Birmingham’s world leading culture and creative sector.”

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, said: “The Birmingham Opera Company's production of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT (WEDNESDAY FROM LIGHT) is an excellent illustration of the diverse array of events that will make up the London 2012 Festival. At a time when the international spotlight is on the UK, the Festival will serve to remind the rest of the world what a truly talented and creative nation we are.”

Graham Vick, Artistic Director, Birmingham Opera Company, said: “I am excited and proud that London 2012 Festival has given Birmingham Opera Company the chance to tackle this mind-bending and visionary work. Karlheinz Stockhausen appeals to a broad audience way beyond that of traditional classical music and is exactly in tune with my work in Birmingham. I know that our uniquely diverse audience and Company will rise to the challenge.”

Dame Liz Forgan, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “To realise Stockhausen's unique vision at last will be a fantastic opportunity for Birmingham Opera Company and I know they will rise to the challenge.  I am delighted that the Arts Council is able to support this hugely ambitious project which will be an unforgettable experience for audiences across this country and the world during the 2012 Olympic and Parlaympic Games.”

Kathinka Pasveer - musical director and director of Stockhausen Stiftung for Music, said: “Karlheinz Stockhausen completed MITTWOCH (WEDNESDAY) in 1998 and longed for its premiere up to his death in 2007. His vision for MITTWOCH (WEDNESDAY) is a musical expression of global harmony of love and collaboration in a united humanity. We are delighted and grateful that his dream is now becoming a reality through the inspiring collaboration between the London 2012 Festival, the Birmingham Opera Company and Stockhausen Stiftung within the context of the international spirit and ambition of the London 2012 Games.”

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, London 2012 Festival, said: “Congratulations to the City of Birmingham, who have once again shown their leadership in putting Birmingham on the world map as a cultural innovator. The world premiere of this piece will be remembered by local, national and international audiences as a highlight of the London 2012 Festival. I'm delighted that Birmingham will be the host for this once-in-a lifetime London 2012 Festival commission.”

Stockhausen is a revolutionary figure in 20th century music. His innovation moved composition into new territory embracing the new technology of electronic music and breaking the barriers between musical genres. He has influenced pop, rock and electronic music and his appeal to a very broad young audience sells out the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican as well as large concert halls in Europe, America and the Pacific Rim.

Of his monumental achievement LICHT (LIGHT) a cycle of 7 operas, one for each day of the week, MITTWOCH (WEDNESDAY) is the only part of the cycle he never saw staged.

Stockhausen said: “We have individual scenes from MITTWOCH AUS LICHT in very good concert performances. But all attempts to stage MITTWOCH AUS LICHT have not been successful. I do not want the opera performance to be incomplete.”


Erica Bolton
Tel: 020 7221 5000
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Ben Chamberlain
The Corner Shop PR
Tel: 020 7831 7657
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Paul Woodmansey
London 2012 Press Officer - Culture, Ceremonies & Education
Direct line: 0203 2012 461
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Louise Wylie
Director, Media Relations
Arts Council England
Tel: +44 207 973 5528
Mobile: 07912 998955

Notes to editors:

Production details:


An opera by Karlheinz Stockhausen
A commission for the London 2012 Festival, produced by Birmingham Opera Company

August 22nd, 23rd, 24th 25th 2012 at 4pm (finishes 10pm)
Argyle Works, Great Barr Street, Birmingham B9 4EX

Artistic Team:
Director: Graham Vick
Music Director: Kathinka Pasveer
Designer: Paul Brown
Choreographer: Ron Howell
Lighting Designer: Giuseppe di Iorio
Sound Design: Igor Kavulek

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival
The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummers Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK's world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

For more details on the programme and to sign up for information visit

About Birmingham Opera Company
Born of a passion and a belief that opera can speak directly to all kinds of people, Artistic Director, Graham Vick, set out to create a company that the people of Birmingham – a city of many peoples – could be proud of. This means creating and staging opera in unpredictable and unusual places close to the streets of the city. It means opening the doors and inviting people in to watch you work and to work with you. This means sharing a great art with great people. It’s a different way of making opera.

About Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people's lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, it will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

The Arts Council has been closely involved in the development of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme since the bid stage. Its significant investment in a nationwide programme of events aims to increase participation in the arts; profile our artists on an international stage and showcase the UK as a world-leading cultural destination; as well as creating the lasting legacy of a strengthened cultural sector. With its unparalleled offer of national, regional and local projects across a range of art forms, the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival programme will be a global event with enormous potential to help deliver Arts Council England's mission of great art for everyone.

About The Space

The Space is a joint initiative by the BBC and Arts Council England - a new, digital arts media service which will be available free of charge via the internet, smartphones, tablets and smart TV and as a red button Video on Demand service.

Launching in May 2012 and running until the end of October - to coincide with and complement the wealth of arts activity in 2012, including the London 2012 Festival and wider Cultural Olympiad - The Space will help transform the way people connect with and experience arts and culture and give artists the space to innovate and experiment.

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  1. Ulrich says:

    Congratulations and best wishes – it will be a huge challenge, but very worth undertaking it!