Grimeborn 2022 - Arcola Theatre

From the 26th of July the Grimeborn Opera Festival returns for the fifteenth year, featuring fourteen operas, four new works and eleven female directors from a variety of traditional favourites and new tales from across the globe.

“Arcola Theatre has always championed adventurous artists, and this has never been clearer than in our Grimeborn programme this year. Music has the power to connect us, and it has always been our belief that opera should be accessible to all. Our commitment to affordable ticket prices means that everyone can enjoy opera and I am so excited to watch this year’s line-up.”

Arcola Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen

L’Incoronazione di Poppea

By Claudio Monteverdi and Giovanni Francesco Busenello
See Ensemble OrQuesta’s 5-star production of Monteverdi's L’Incoronazione di Poppea - musically authentic performances offering a modern interpretation of a 17th-century story exploring ambition, love, and lust, creating a fusion hailed as ‘sensual, dramatic, and compelling’.
Read More

Black, el Payaso

Black, the Clown
By Pablo Sorozábal and Francisco Serrano Anguita
Exiled from a country immersed in civil war, two clowns find themselves in the heart of the Parisian underworld at a time of revolution. Black, el Payaso / Black, the Clown is one of Pablo Sorozábal's most ambitious and wide-ranging work. An ingenious allegory of art and nationalist politics, its sharp and political edge that remains relevant today. The libretto is based on the French novel La princesse aux clowns by Jean-José Frappa. This zarzuela (a Spanish opereta) first premiered in Spain in 1942.  This Cervantes Theatre production directed by Paula Paz marks its UK premiere. Black, el Payaso /
Read More


By Richard Wagner
Adaptation by Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick
Orchestrated by Jonathan Dove
→ Book for Siegfriend → Book for Götterdämmerung Grimeborn Festival marches on inexorably towards the dramatic conclusion of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, in Graham Vick’s and Jonathan Dove’s innovative reduction. Following on from the acclaimed productions of Das Rheingold, at the Arcola Theatre in 2019, and Die Walküre last summer at Hackney Empire, Arcola Theatre completes the Ring Cycle with a double bill of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Standing alone as a closed chapter within The Ring Cycle, Siegfried tells the story of the hero’s quest to rescue Brünnhilde from her flame-surrounded sleep on the rock, overcoming dwarves and dragons and guided by a magic woodbird on the way. Siegfried and Brünnhilde
Read More


Music by Leo Geyer after Georges Bizet
Libretto by Joanna Turner after Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Supermarket check-out girl Carmen brazenly flirts with the new security guard Don Jose, much to the confusion and embarrassment of his fiancée Micaela, when Carmen’s ex-boyfriend turned TikTok celebrity Escamillo shows up.
Read More

The Boatswain’s Mate

Music and libretto by Ethel Smyth
Dame Ethel Smyth’s comic opera put female emancipation centre stage when it was premiered in 1916. Spectra Ensemble 1950s-set revival is a real summer treat which returns to Grimeborn after a sell-out run in 2018.
Read More

The Magic Flute

W.A. Mozart, new English Libretto by Lindsay Bramley
Tamino and Pamina find themselves caught between the machinations of the Queen of the Night and her enemy Sarastro, on a quest for truth, honesty, love and balance.
Read More

H.M.S. Pinafore

By Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert
Director Emma Jude Harris sails this radical rethink of Gilbert and Sullivan's beloved H.M.S. Pinafore to Grimeborn. This production looks beyond the fun and frills of Savoy opera to offer a sharp critique of the piece's underlying imperialism. Join this classic as it makes new waves.
Read More

Sin The Musical

By John-Michael Mahoney
A little sin can't kill you… Can it? Don't miss the world premiere of this original musical that blends jazz with contemporary pop. It has to start somewhere.
Read More

Bluebeard’s Castle

By Béla Bartók
Judith stands on the threshold of Bluebeard’s Castle. Needing to know what secrets lie beyond the seven locked doors and within the man she loves, she steps into the darkness.
Read More


Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, is traditionally seen through the lens of her husband. Here she is re-envisioned to portray the different fates of women and how artistic expression keeps them strong, with Penelope’s story as the unifying thread. Invited reading. Bluebeard's Castle is part of Grimeborn Opera Festival 2022. Explore the full programme →
Read More

Sumida River in Sign Language

By Kanze Motomasa
Devised by the company from a Deaf perspective and based on the Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa
Poignancy and comedy mix in a shifting kaleidoscope of sign languages and spoken word, where Deaf performers are played like musical instruments, where drums beat to the sound of speech and song, where silence is as deep as the world.
Read More

and I decided… / The Bear

By Daniel Felsenfeld and William Walton

Opera at Home present a double bill and i decided... (Monday-Wednesday) Ever wonder what happened to Nora, the protagonist of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” after slamming the door behind her? Or Alice of “Alice in Wonderland” in the years after her adventures? Or what the participant of the adult film thinks? The set of operatic monologues will give you the answer. Text: Robert Coover/Will Eno/Jennie Ketcham Monday's performance will not included The Bear but will followed by the post show Q&A: "Feminism in contemporary opera" and has reduced ticket prices. The Bear (Tuesday-Wednesday) William Walton comic masterpiece “The Bear” or
Read More

The Unravelling Fantasia of Miss H.

By Red Gray and Sarah Nicolls
Text based on the embroidered words of Mary Frances Heaton
The Unravelling Fantasia of Miss H. is a new contemporary opera inspired by the true story of Mary Frances Heaton b.1801 based on her embroidered words of defiant protest and surviving medical records from her confinement in Wakefield Asylum.
Read More

Image by Idil Sukan

Keep in touch

Complete the information below to receive news updates from Arcola.