Tuesday 11 July 2023

Back for the 16th festival, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival also celebrates the company's 25th anniversary with a lively new season

Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival

Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival is back at the Cockpit Theatre for the 2023 festival from 29 August to 12 September as well as celebrating 25 years since the company first launched! A remarkable achievement for all, including artistic director and founder  Bill Bankes-Jones. 

As ever the repertoire is many and varied from classics reimagined, such as Judith, a reimagining of Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle, to Helen Epega revisiting her 2015 work, the first-ever Pidgin English opera, Song Queen: A Pidgin Opera Reimagined, to a one-woman micro-opera based on a women's support group.

LGBT representation is strong from Fierce Love, a story of love and AIDS activism in 1990s London, to Bermondsey, 1983, a documentary opera detailing the Bermondsey by-election and homophobic smear campaign against Labour candidate Peter Tatchell. Homo Promos returns with 1944: Home Fires, a follow-up to last year’s 1936: Fishing with a narrative following Ivor Novello’s imprisonment, and performance artist and self-confessed gender-outsider Alice d'Lumiere is also back to reveal if she's now able to hold a note in The Trans Lady Sings! Songs of Descent is a gothic queer re-telling of the Persephone myth.

And myth is also highly prominent. Belgian composer Hans Vercauteren’s Arthur draws on Laurence Binyon's Arthur, a Tragedy and the old-Flemish version of the tale, Freguut, as well as Ricardo Dourado's Medusa, Alice Beckwith's The Golden Thread, an Angela Carter-inspired piece involving a woman's encounter with the Green Man and his more sinister counterpart, the Erlking. Whilst Susannah Self's Fragments of a Lost Land merges tales of Atlantis with Doggerland.

One particular highlight is Cupboard Love, a staging of Madeline Dring's only opera. I saw the work when it was giving in a semi-staging in the crypt at St John's Smith Square in the 1980s and look forward to a chance to see it again for Dring's centenary.

Full details from the festival website.

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