Innovative opera sparks interest for Stourbridge scientists

Stourbridge News: Susan and John Franklin. Buy photo: 121243L Buy this photo Susan and John Franklin. Buy photo: 121243L

A SHARED love of opera music has proved to be the perfect formula for a successful partnership for a former rocket scientist and his wife from Stourbridge.

John Franklin, aged 69, and his wife Susan, aged 63, a retired chemistry teacher, met at Birmingham University where they both studied chemistry.

Now 41 years on their shared passion has diversified into music and the couple from Gladstone Road in Wollaston are both members of Birmingham Opera Company and are gearing up for the company’s latest outing Life is a Dream.

Both are part of the singing chorus in the brand new opera commissioned by leading British composer, Jonathan Dove, with words by Alasdair Middleton.

Directed by Graham Vick - the show will run for seven performances with the world premiere taking place Wednesday March 21 at the former Digbeth factory, Argyle Works.

Celebrating its 25th year this year, Birmingham Opera Company has won global recognition and critical acclaim for its innovative approach to opera.

It is unique for involving hundreds of people of all ages and from all walks of life from the local community in its productions which are often staged in unusual locations such as former factories or disused ice rinks.

In Life is A Dream John and Susan will be supporting an international cast which includes American tenor Eric Greene, British tenor Paul Nilon and tenor Joseph Guyton who recently came third in the German X Factor final.

John, who also plays the flute and has been singing in choirs and opera groups since he was nine, said: “It’s a real privilege to work with a internationally acclaimed director Graham Vick who has such a unique approach to opera which brings a wide variety of people from the community together with world class opera singers.

“Chorus members range from teenagers who’ve never been to an opera to retired people who have sung in many, creating fantastic friendships and relationships.”

John, who used to work for British Aerospace (formally Royal Ordnance) in Kidderminster, is also principal flute player and chairman of the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra.

Life is a Dream, which runs from March 21 to 31, will be his fourth production with Birmingham Opera Company. He also appeared in Fidelio, King Idomeneo and Othello, with Susan joining him in all four productions as well as Candide and La Traviata.

Tickets are available from Ticket Sellers on 0844 870 0000 or online at www.birminghamopera.org.uk

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