Rhinegold

Simon Smith

Tête à Tête launches live Festival of new opera

10:24, 9th September 2020


Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival is back until 30 September with over 50 events, 18 of which will take place at The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone, Central London, before a live audience.

Founded in 2007, the event is the UK’s largest festival of new opera. Each year, it gives artists from all over the world the chance to push the boundaries of opera and experiment wildly with the form. The artists are mentored, supported, and given a platform to share their latest creations.

Since its launch, Tête à Tête has made it its mission to support 21st-century opera, premiering more than 400 new works. While several organisations offer largely core repertoire on a similar scale, there are very few options for budding opera composers to hone their writing through specially produced projects. ‘It’s virtually impossible to put on small to middle-scale contemporary opera,’ Bill Bankes-Jones, co-founder of Tête à Tête, told Opera Now. ‘We wanted to create opportunities for the art form.’

Tête à Tête was chosen to present the first performance of opera in a UK theatre to a live audience since lockdown began in March, in a pilot event for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  The Other Side of the Sea & Beyond took place at The Cockpit Theatre in July and featured soprano Héloïse Werner. The company has remained resolute throughout lockdown that its 2020 festival should take place in a living, breathing space. In the interim, it encouraged its artists to share their creative processes with audiences, both online and off. Each opera premiere was given a webpage where artists have uploaded videos, recordings, images, interviews and materials that have inspired their work.

This year’s festival promises an incredibly varied range of themes, from operas about female serial killers (The Hive), to  shows asking whether hibernation is a viable alternative to living (Persephone’s Dream), to children’s operas exploring ecological issues (Bubbles the Zebrafish & The No .8 Bus).

Most of the shows of the festival will take place at The Cockpit Theatre from tonight until 20 September. You can watch from home: Interactive broadcasts of the shows will take place on the Cockpit’s website. From 20 to 30 September, some of the shows will take place Cubitt Sessions’ Digital Stage in  London’s King’s Cross.

For the full programme, click here.

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