Besse, the first-ever beer-themed opera to be staged in a brewery, is returning to the award-winning craft brewery on River Street in Digbeth by popular demand, with celebrated American baritone Jared Ice making his Birmingham debut.
The Frankfurt-based singer is a triple winner of the international Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg singing competition that included his professional debut as Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca. He is also co-producer of
the award-winning opera podcast Sex, Drugs and Opera, which gives a
humorous insight into the opera industry.
Created by librettist and soprano Roxanne Korda, and composer and conductor Daniel Blanco Albert, both Royal Birmingham Conservatoire graduates, Besse tells the story of a female brewer during the time of the Black Death, when brewing was changing from a domestic industry in the
hands of women to a commercial business controlled by men, and when an increasingly paranoid public were starting witch hunts.
Performed on a purpose-built stage around Dig Brew’s brewing equipment, the production will be part of an opera, pizza and craft beer extravaganza being held on Friday, November 1, for Hallowe’en and as a major Digbeth First Friday arts event.
‘We pride ourselves on producing top-quality craft beer and being able to use beer as a unifying force in our local community’
Roxanne, who will also sing the title role, said: “As a local non- profit company devoted to making opera accessible to everyone, we are looking forward to bringing a Hallowe’en night of dramatic entertainment to Digbeth, and giving local artists and musicians a unique platform to display their talent. We are also thrilled to have Jared Ice join us an award-winning guest artist.”
Full-price tickets, costing £15, include the choice of a craft beer from a wide range that includes a fruity pale ale, Maleficarum, and a sour Berliner weisse, Hathor’s Revenge, specially brewed for the opera, or a slice of Neapolitan-style artisan sourdough pizza from the brewery’s new Dough Pizzeria.
Daniel, who will conduct from behind the bar, said: “This is a great opportunity to come and enjoy beer made into music — sometimes merrily crispy, sometimes soured with the frozen cold dagger of drama, and sometimes bitterly sweet. These are definitely two hours of refreshingly hoppy music for all.”
Oliver Webb, a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art and founder of Dig Brew, said: “We are delighted to welcome back Digbeth’s own opera company after previous productions of Besse performed in three parts in our brewery over separate nights attracted sell-out audiences.
“We pride ourselves on producing top-quality craft beer and being able to use beer as a unifying force within our local community, helping us to grow Digbeth as a nationally recognised artistic and cultural centre.”
• Tickets for Besse, on Friday, November 1, are available, priced from £12 to £15, by clicking
73264509119. The show starts at 8pm.