A new opera premières in Birmingham (UK) this week that takes an audience on a musical journey through time and space to the end of the universe as we know it.

Staged in Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 April, ‘Entanglement! An Entropic Tale’ is an opera in three acts and is described by its creators as “the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of particle physics”. The production centres around the love story between an electron and a positron who are stuck in a quantum quandary arising as a result of the unstoppable, chaotic destruction of our known universe.

The story is based on traditional operatic themes such as impossible love – in this case between an electron and a positron – and the meddling of god-like figures in human’s lives. The timeless tale also explores issues of identity, free will and destruction.

The opera is being presented by Infinite Opera company, a troupe formed of postgraduate students from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire who wanted to develop a platform for their own expression and creativity, but also divulge the wonders of both science and opera.

Their first production is being codirected by the company and Aleksandar Dunđerović, Professor of Performing Arts at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Professor Dundjerović is an award-winning professional theatre director and throughout his career has worked on major productions in his home country as well as in Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Iran, the USA and the UK.

The starting point for this project came from librettist and soprano Roxanne Korda’s interest in different fields of human creativity, bringing together physics, philosophy and music. Now an MMus student at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, she graduated in Physics and Philosophy (King’s College London), and has previously worked on raising awareness around women in physics, a traditionally male-dominated field.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire student Roxanne Korda from London, said: “This is an opera which describes theories from physics that are not commonly discussed and presents them in a new manner, filled with emotion and connected to the human spirit. Not only does it highlight these fundamental ideas that are in fact repeated throughout history, it also exposes the art form of opera to a wider audience, ensuring it can continue to be relevant to contemporary society. 

“I wrote this libretto in order to disseminate the theories of physics that I love to think about so much, and help people feel connected to them in a way that is very approachable. I hope that this story will inspire the imagination of the audience to learn more about the universe and how we as humans perceive the world around us.”

Taking place in The Lab, a cutting edge, completely flexible black-box studio space, the set has been designed in conjunction with students from Birmingham City University’s Interior Architecture and Design course, who created inflatable structures for the show.

Spanish composer and performer Daniel Blanco Albert has composed music for several Royal Birmingham Conservatoire productions since he began studying at the college in 2015. On composing ‘Entanglement! An Entropic Tale’, he said:

“Creating an opera about physics – which I studied while preparing for university – was a project that really pushed me to do something completely new and original. The music is heavily inspired by the libretto, which mixes a very human story with science and physics, creating a sort of Greek mythological drama, but led by the elements and forces that surround us.

“Although challenging – mainly fitting an opera around the student’s education commitments – the collaborative nature of our production has been hugely rewarding and has given many of those involved their first professional experience.

“Away from Birmingham, there has been strong interest from festivals in London, Madrid and Valencia, as well as several universities, who would like to stage ‘Entanglement! An Entropic Tale’. We are also having conversations with venues in France, and even Serbia and Canada, who may wish us to take the opera on tour in those countries too.”

The Conservatoire was granted a Royal title by Her Majesty The Queen in September 2017, with the bestowment following the HRH The Earl of Wessex becoming the college’s first Royal Patron in March 2016. The Earl officially declared the building open on Sunday 11 March this year prior to the Royal Opening Gala Concert in his honour.

Featuring the Royal Conservatoire’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and conducted by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s (CBSO) Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the Royal Opening Gala Concert marked the beginning of the college’s Opening Festival, which continues with ‘Entanglement! An Entropic Tale’.

Alongside ‘Entanglement! An Entropic Tale’ the Opening Festival will welcome a wealth of world-class artists to Birmingham, including Julia Donaldson, Peter Donohoe, Orkest de Ereprijs, Laura van der Heijden, Nigel Kennedy, Roderick Williams and Jacqueline Wilson. Birmingham City University Chancellor, Sir Lenny Henry, will also be narrating ‘Peter and the Wolf’ on Friday 4 May.

Not only will the festival see international stars grace the Conservatoire’s five performance venues, there will also be a focus on the rising stars and grass roots artists of the local music scene, as per the institution’s commitment to nurturing talent and providing a hub for performing arts in the city.