Arcola announces 2018 Grimeborn Opera Festival

Arcola Theatre has announced the 17-strong line up of productions in this year’s Grimeborn Opera Festival.

The festival, which is returning for its twelfth successive year, features bold new versions of classic operas, rarely-seen and long-forgotten works, and brand new pieces from some of the most exciting up-and-coming opera artists. All tickets are priced between £10 and £26.

Grimeborn 2018 begins on 24 July with Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, directed by rising star and Royal Opera Staff Director Julia Burbach with musical direction by Peter Selwyn. This daring new production turns the lens on the representation of women from ancient myths to the #MeToo movement.

Then Jonathan Moore directs a new, thirtieth anniversary production of Greek. His and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s riotous, contemporary retelling of the Oedipus myth, based on the verse play by Steven Berkoff, sent shockwaves through the opera world when it premiered in 1988. Now it comes home to the East End, with music direction by Tim Anderson.

Other productions include The Boatswain’s Mate, written by suffragette Ethel Smyth, in a rare staging on the centenary of the Representation of the People Act; Francesco Cavalli’s Xerse, featuring eleven singers, baroque violins, cello, lute and harpsichord; the European premiere and 50th anniversary production of Elephant Steps, an occult, surrealist opera by American avant garde theatre pioneers Richard Foreman and Stanley Silverman; and A Fantastic Bohemian, a unique, promenade opera experience based on Jacques Offenbach‘s The Tales of Hoffman.

Fulham Opera bring their contemporary version of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor along with a ravishing new opera, The Prometheus Revolution by Keith Burstein. Opera Alegria stage Donizetti’s Rita alongside Maurice Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole.

Classics are reimagined by the Romany Theatre Company, whose Carmen The Gypsy places the story in the contemporary British traveller community with original Gypsy folk songs, and by The Opera Company, whose Onegin and Tatiana offers a new take on Tchaikovsky‘s Eugene Onegin.

Mosaic platforms and celebrates Black & Asian opera makers, with creative workshops for artists and performances for audiences, showcasing stories yet to be seen and heard in contemporary Britain.

And there are one-night-only performances of Swing Sister Swing, inspired by jazz-greats Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday; Teenage Bodies, a cycle of cantates for five voices based on Dieterich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri; and Recitals, featuring performances by soprano Milly Forrest and pianist Alastair Chilvers of some of the repertoire’s best-loved pieces.

There are even shows for young children, with Melanie Gall’s Opera Mouse and Jazz Cat introducing to the next generation to the wonders of opera and live music.

Arcola Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen said:
“Opera should belong to everybody. Its roots are in the streets, in the stories we share, and in the power of music to unite and affect us all. Grimeborn exists to champion that power, and to make it accessible: with affordable ticket prices, a diverse programme and a platform for the young and the new. Twelve years in, it’s still building momentum: with more and more people attending the festival each year. I think this year’s line-up is the most exciting yet, and I can’t wait to see it on our stages.”

Booking is now open for Arcola Supporters. Public booking opens on Friday 22 June at 12.30pm.

Explore the programme →