Birkenhead-born opera director Sir Graham Vick dies

Sir Graham Vick CBE, the Birkenhead born opera director has died aged 67 from “complications arising from COVID-19”, it has been announced.

Sir Graham died on 17 July 2021 and had been in hospital since June after testing positive for the virus.

He was known for his experimental and revisionist stagings of traditional and modern operas. He worked in many of the world’s leading opera houses and was artistic director of the Birmingham Opera Company.

He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. At age 24, he directed a production of Gustav Holst’s Savitri for the Scottish Opera, and became the company’s director of productions in 1984. From 1994 to 2000, Vick was director of productions at Glyndebourne Opera.

A spokesperson for the Birmingham Opera Company said, “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.”

Sir 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.

THe spokesperson continued, “He threw open the doors to the people 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 a spectator but a participant with no selection process other than a commitment to turn up and take part.”

Vick was awarded as Knight of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, as Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham, and as International Chair of Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music. He was also awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2016. Vick was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours and knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to music and the regions.

Sir Graham Vick was born in Birkenhead on 30 December 1953 and died in London aged 67 on 17 July 2021.

Image credit: Hugo Glendinning / Birmingham Opera Company

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