Out of the Shadows

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Ring Returns: Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Festival celebrates opera from Monteverdi through to contemporary with some zarzuela thrown in

Wagner: Die Walküre - Bethan Langford, Elizabeth Karani, Katie Stevenson - Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Festival at Hackney Empire in 2021 (Photo Alex Brenner)
Wagner: Die Walküre - Bethan Langford, Elizabeth Karani, Katie Stevenson - Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Festival at Hackney Empire in 2021 (Photo Alex Brenner)

Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Festival returns this Summer for its 15th year, presenting fourteen operas and four new works, with the festival's productions of Wagner's Siegfried and Götterdämmerung completing its traversal of Wanger's Ring Cycle.

The festival opens with Ensemble OrQuesta's modern interpretation of Monteverdi's L’Incoronazione di Poppea. Then following the festival's productions of Das Rheingold in 2019 [see my review] and Die Walküre in 2021 [see my review], they return to the Hackney Empire for the final two episodes of the Ring Cycle in Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick's adaptation.

Thanks to Glyndebourne and the BBC Proms, this is rather turning into Ethel Smyth year (hurrah!) so it is delightful that Spectra Ensemble's 2018 production of Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate is returning to Grimeborn [see my review]. Other unusual repertoire includes The Cervantes Theatre in the UK première of Black, el payaso, Pablo Sorozobal's zarzuela which debuted in Spain in 1942, whilst Opera at Home are pairing Walton's The Bear with Daniel Felsenfeld's I decided...

New opera and work in progress includes John Michael Maloney's Sin the Musical from Dmii Productions, Kristina Arakelyan's Penelope (Work in Progress), What More? Production's mixture of Japanese and British Sign Language of Deaf performers in Sumida River and Red Gray & Sarah Nicholls' The Unravelling Fantasia of Miss H. which explores the Victorian mental health system.

Classic operas in the season include Bizet's Carmen in Leo Geyer's bold re-imagining for Baseless Fabric Theatre, Mozart's The Magic Flute in Lindsay Bramley's version for Opera Alegria, Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore in a radical rethink from Emma Jude Harris, Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle from environmentally sustainable opera company Green Opera.

The Grimeborn Festival runs from 26 July to 10 September at the Arcola Theatre and the Hackney Empire. Full details from the Arcola Theatre website.

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