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In London’s (Off) West End 2019: “It Might Be Okay” Tête à Tête – The Opera Festival 2019


LONDON – Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival returns for its twelfth iteration this July, giving the festival’s alumni and debutantes platform to experiment with unconventional operatic forms which may, or may not, be works of genius, given its unusual theme of It Might Be Okay. Grounded in themes of mythology, loss and transitions, the festival offers stories to us in dark times to remind us that, through music, art and connection, it all might be okay

Running from 24th July to 10th August, the festival’s highlights include Madame Butterflop, a ruination of Puccini’s masterpiece it parodies, and The Perfect Opera, a satirical piece that crams the 49 tropes expected of an opera into one hip hop foxtrot operatic sketch comedy show, featuring a romantic union between Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a pantomime camel. Meanwhile, expect to watch more shows featuring myths and fables, such as Growth of the Silk, a fable about a woman whose hair won’t stop growing; the Chinese folktale The Bridge of Magpies, which recounts the myth of magpies helping a separated pair of lovers; Her Face Was Of Flowers, which encompasses the Welsh myth of a woman composed of flowers, and The Cruel Sister, which sees a girl drowned, before her bones are turned into a violin

Tête à Tête will also be featuring two site-specific works, offering audiences contrasting residences as experiential backdrops for pieces exploring human connection and unusual methods of communication: The 鍵 Key, performed in a private residence in Dulwich and based on the Japanese novel by Junichiro Tanizaki, captures a couple’s inability to connect through alternate diary entries, while Duncan House is performed in a block of flats in Camden where it is set, where residents choose to communicate to each other solely through written messages.

The theme of loss also feature strongly in the festival this year, with several works using various art forms and modes of expression to transform loss into meaning, and find what emerges beneath. One Art is a monodrama exploring the poet Elizabeth Bishop’s response to loss through her poetry, complete with original art song settings of her most famous works such as ‘One Art’; Of Body and Ghost is a poetic dance-opera inspired by the ageing body and humanity’s desperation to delay the inevitability of bodily decline and how history is etched in the text of an aging body, while Voice(less) uses the voice and electronics to explore the loss of voice due to trauma or socio-political pressures

Cubitt Sessions open the 2019 festival in King’s Cross, with free opportunities to see unique artists such as award-winning Errollyn Wallen, who writes her compositions in her lighthouse and Ayanna Witter-Johnson, the artist proving that classical music and R&B are a match. Among the 30 new operas across 9 venues, the festival will also see the return of its much-loved popup operas, with an environmental theme. These pop-up operas include We Did Our Best, where penguin couple express their regret about their failure to counteract climate change to their chick, and Aliens on the Street, where a conspiracy theorist is confronted by a real-life alien

Other highlights include Memories in Mind, a piece blending song and film about the Windrush Generation and a mother’s feelings of cultural displacement, and Be A Doll, an electroacoustic toy opera about a woman struggling so much with sociocultural messages to be the ‘perfect’ woman that she cannot tell if she is a human or a doll. Youths will also be featured in the festival, with A Steampunk Opera composed by a 19 year old, the libretto of the fantastical For Peace and Country being the direct transcript of the writer’s 8 year old sister playing with her toys, and Hand Clap, which explores children’s handclapping, featuring the libretto of the composer’s 7-year old daughter.

Come discover the most genre-breaking operas with Tête à Tête’s 2019 edition of The Opera Festival, as they show you the lighter side of the art form, and reassure you that as cruddy as life gets sometimes, it may well be okay in the end.

Tête à Tête – The Opera Festival 2019 runs from 24th July to 10th August 2019. For the full list of programmes, visit their website here

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