Tuesday 19 July 2022

Refugees, teenage opera and the Marquis de Sade, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival is back challenging boundaries with a cornucopia of new work at The Cockpit and beyond

Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival 2022 at the Cockpit
Image Jeremy Richardson

Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival returns in 2022 as fit and lively as ever. Taking as its theme, burgeoning with life, this years festival runs from 15 August to 11 September with some two dozen or so events taking place at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone. The pieces on offer vary from an opera written by a 13-year-old to regular visitors to the festival returning with new events.

As well as the Cockpit programme there a few pieces elsewhere. There is a site-specific piece, Daniel Blanco Albert and Roxanne Korda's Besse: Water, Rye and Hops about medieval women brewing beer which takes place in the Ansbach and Hobday Brewery, and the brewery has even produced a new beer specially! As part of Kings Cross Sounds, We Are The Monsters is a new Celtic fusion project brought to you by members of Monster Ceilidh Band, Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening and The Shee which sees traditional roots and electronic influences come together in innovative new ways. Whilst What the dog said to the harvest at Kings Place is composer Jasmine Kent Rodgman and poet+writer Lisa Luxx's new collaboration, hybrid performance-installation drawing on opera, dance, spoken word, binaural sound and archive + documentary film

Robert Ely's 1936: Fishing is being presented by Homo Promos, Britain’s oldest LGBT company. The opera tells the story of the friendship between an old man and a teenager on Brighton Pier, where Oscar Wilde’s downfall still casts a long shadow forty years later. A poignant exploration of LGBT history, and the experiences passed down the generations, for better or worse. A kind of Death in Venice, told from the point of view of the boy Tadzio.

Toadette, the Frog Opera was composed by Jack Dauner when he was just 13 to a libretto by his Mum. Blending fantasy with romantic-style music, spectacular costumes, and unforgettable characters, it is a sure family favourite.  Darren Berry's comic opera about the Marquis de Sade's libido, The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow, is back having first appeared in reduced form at the 2020 festival. Edward Lambert's Music Troupe also makes a welcome return, this time with The Burning Question, a comedy about a female pope trying to get into heaven.

Michael Betteridge's Voices of the Sands is a dramatic cantata conjuring the stories of those who foundered on Goodwin Sands, perilous sandbar that lies six miles of the Kent coast. Steve Pfleegor Potter and Zoe Bouras' Landed tells the story of a Greek family fleeing the Suez Crisis to find their new home in England is falling off a cliff. Jeremy Gill and Marianna Suri's The Journey is inspired by the ongoing refugee crisis and adapts a story by Michael Zand in a performance featuring the refugee choir Citizens of the World Choir, to tell the of a Man who decides to escape the confines of his existence to travel in search of a better life.

Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour and Dominic Power's The Red Room is based on a short story by the Iranian modernist master, Sadegh Hedayat. Set in a provincial Persian town in the 1930s, it is an intimate drama with overtones of Gothic horror that explores nihilism and philosophic despair. Icelandic composer Helgi R. Ingvarsson's Music and the Brain is inspired by the writings of Oliver Sacks, which tells the story of The Singer, whose successful career has been cut short by an accident.    

Full details from the festival's website.

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