Grimeborn, the alternative opera festival, opens at Arcola


Cult opera returns for the ninth year. Everyone’s favourite music festival, Grimeborn, is back at London’s Arcola Theatre.

A dozen new productions are programmed, comprising an alternative opera season in East London.

Innovative adaptations of traditional operas, unknown, rarely-seen or under-appreciated works and brand new pieces from the most exciting up-and-coming composers, musicians and companies are in the pipeline.

Since it launched in 2007, the Grimeborn festival has introduced new audiences to opera and given emerging artists the platform to showcase and develop their talent.

It has consistently challenged the perception that opera is inaccessible and elitist.

Arcola artistic director Mehmet Ergen said: “For the ninth year running, Grimeborn will showcase work from some of our most exciting opera artists, in an accessible way and at an affordable price.

“Classics by Puccini, Verdi and Strauss will be reimagined; little-known masterpieces like Tchouhadjian’s Gariné will receive rare productions; new and contemporary works will demonstrate the ongoing vibrancy of opera within our culture.”

Grimeborn 2015 will fill both Arcola studios with a dozen exciting productions.


Today until Saturday (not Thursday):

Opera 24 and Darker Purpose Theatre Company presents La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini in a new English version by John Farndon.

Against a backdrop of soaring rents and insecure employment, Lewis Reynolds’ timely production relocates the story to 21st century London, with a witty contemporary libretto from best-selling writer, Farndon.

August 14-15:

Arcola Theatre presents Gariné by Dikran Tchoukhajian.

An extremely rare chance to see the masterwork of Dikran Tchoukhajian, the first opera composer of the Ottoman Empire.

Gerald Papasian directs a semi-staging of his acclaimed adaptation, previously performed at the Theatre of Saint-Maur, Paris and the Theatre de L’Odeon, Marseille.

August 18-22:

Fulham Opera presents Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi.

Director Daisy Evans brings Verdi’s final masterpiece to the present day, reimagining Shakespeare’s characters with flair and wit. A joyous and sparkling comedy from the acclaimed Fulham Opera company.

August 20:

Opera at Home presents Daphne by Richard Strauss.

This imaginative new production of Strauss’ ‘bucolic tragedy’, inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Euripides’ The Bacchae, sets the classical myth in 1930s Germany. No almighty Gods here, but the powerful commanders of the regime.

August 25-29:

Arcola Theatre presents Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.

Julia Burbach’s revelatory new production, inspired by Japanese folkloric ghost stories, premieres at Grimeborn. Her radical reframing of Puccini’s masterpiece is a haunting psychological thriller, alive with the mysteries of memory, memory and mortality.


Today until Saturday:

Constella Ballet & Orchestra in collaboration with Khymerikal presents The Clown of Clowns by Arnold Schoenenberg/Leo Geyer.

This unique interpretation of Pierrot Lunaire adds new choreography to Arnold Schoenberg’s iconic score. It’s paired with the award-winning Sideshows, an unhinged circus show set to a jazz-inspired score by Leo Geyer.

August 11-15:

LIVEARTSHOW presents Marsha: A Girl Who Does Bad Things.

When Marsha sees the world through fresh eyes, she discovers the truth about beauty… This dazzlingly inventive new work from LIVEARTSHOW, winners of the MTN Award for Best Musical, probes innocence, prejudice and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy.

August 16:

I-D.A Projects presents Gala by Ergo Phizmiz.

This tragicomic chamber opera from ‘renaissance man Ergo Phizmiz’ (The Wire) tells the story of an American actor’s affair with Gala Dali, the wife and muse of artist Salvador Dali.

Basement Orchestra presents Misch-Masch & Peter and the Wolf by Jasmin Kent Rodgman / Sergei Prokofiev.

The inimitable Basement Orchestra perform a new work by Jasmin Kent Rodgman, which sets Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky to music.

August 21-22:

Opera Room presents The Invited by Richard Knight and Norman Welch.

Emily, a woman of science, dismisses the omen of her sister Violet. Yet both of them have seen figures in the trees. A gripping new psychological melodrama.

August 23:

Munshi Productions presents The Queen & I by KS Lewkowicz and Amy Rosenthal.

A most unusual love story. It’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, the eyes of the world are on London… and the Prince of Wales threatens to have his mother declared insane. This work-in-progress rehearsal is a rare opportunity to witness the birth of a brand new musical.

August 25-29:

Robert Shaw for Inside Intelligence presents The Wanton Sublime and The Medium by Tarik O’Regan/ Peter Maxwell Davies.

This groundbreaking electro-acoustic work from twice Grammy-nominated Tarik O’Regan receives its European premiere, with a libretto by award-winning poet Anna Rabinowitz.

It’s paired with Peter Maxwell Davies’ extraordinary and daring piece: a one-act opera for an unaccompanied singer.

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