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Airport Staff and Airline Crews to Perform Opera in Munich

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Employees of Munich Airport will take the stage at Munich's Cuvilliés Theater alongside flight crew members from four different international airlines on 30 and 31 May to present a unique piece of musical theater.

The opera, "This New Ocean", composed by Nélida Béjar and directed by Björn Potulski, will have its world premiere in Munich. The roles will be sung by pilots and flight attendants from South African Airways, Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways, S7 Airlines and employees of Munich Airport and its subsidiaries.

The three-act opera, with a narrative arc extending from the earliest beginnings of humanity to the age of globalization, starts with a video prologue filmed at Munich Airport. Also playing a role in the performance is the "Golden Record" sent out into interstellar space about 40 years ago with the Voyager probe.

What makes this extraordinary stage production special is the fact that overcoming borders is not only a theme of the work itself – it was also a key aspect of the creative process. Nélida Béjar and Björn Potulski, who works with the Munich Airport Policy Affairs unit, first teamed up two years ago to produce the widely acclaimed musical theater project "Heavier Than Air" with the airport's baggage handling employees.

 Producing the new opera posed enormous logistical challenges for them. Simply getting crew members from the four airlines together for rehearsals required the coordination of schedules and ground times for employees from Africa, Europe and Asia. This meant that the management had to engage in intensive discussions at the outset of the production before the first joint rehearsal could take place on 14 September of last year. Since then the cast and crew have worked hard every Saturday to rehearse vocal numbers and scenes. After every session – like the week before – they were again quite literally scattered to the four corners of the earth.

In the months since then, joint sessions in the rehearsal room have enabled the 19 singers and actors from Japan, Russia, South Africa and Germany to gel into a cohesive performance group. Starting next Friday, all of the actors will be back in Munich to use the days leading up to the premiere for a final round of intensive rehearsals.

 The soprano soloist, Yoko Yamaguchi, is a flight attendant with All Nippon Airways when she is not singing. The solo bass role will be sung by Claus Schippan, a real estate manager with FMG. The third soloist with the cast recruited from across the aviation industry is countertenor Jan Kollmar, who works as a purser with Lufthansa. These soloists will be backed by 15 professional musicians conducted by Anton Zapf. Alongside the strings led by concert master Vladimir Lakatos, the ensemble will include winds, a piano, percussion and an electric guitar.

Both performances – the premiere on Friday, 30 May and an additional show the next day – will begin at 8 p.m. in the Cuvilliés Theater in Munich.

The premiere is sold out, but some tickets remain for the Saturday performance. All ticket proceeds will be donated to Flughafenverein München e.V., a benevolent fund for people in need in the airport region and beyond. The official patron of the project is Bavarian finance minister Dr. Markus Söder, who also serves as the chairman of the FMG Supervisory Board.

The African premiere of "This New Ocean" is scheduled for 18 July, and will be followed by two additional performances under the musical direction of composer Nélida Béjar. All three shows will be staged at the Soweto Theatre, which opened two years ago in the renowned Johannesburg township. Backing the singers in the African shows for selected numbers will be a 100-voice children's choir from Soweto.

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