Tête à Tête, one of the the best places to experience new opera, has just announced its 2019 festival programme.
Always responsive to the artistic environment, themes this year include mythology, loss and transitions. It seeks also to remind us that, though times are dark, through music, art and connection, things ‘might be okay.’
If you’ve not been before, you should prepare yourself for the thought-provoking, the banal, the novel, the farcical and the controversial. Given the sheer number of works (30 this year), there is a an inevitable element of hit-and-miss to the proceedings. The festival makes a virtue of this—it is the place to experience opera in its rawest, most experimental form. You’ll occasionally be enraged but you won’t be bored.
Highlights this year include a Tête à Tête Puccini massacre entitled Madame Butterflop, which promises to ‘enervate the most discerning of operatic cognoscenti while giving uproarious pleasure to newcomers to the art form’ 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.’ Following the mythology theme, Growth of the Silkchronicles a fable about a woman whose hair won’t stop growing, the Chinese folktale The Bridge of Magpies recounts the myth of magpies helping a separated pair of lovers, Her Face Was Of Flowers encompasses the Welsh myth of a woman composed of flowers and The Cruel Sister sees a girl drowned, before her bones are turned into a violin.
There are two site-specific works, The 鍵 Key, based upon the Japanese novel by Junichiro Tanizaki will be performed in a private Dulwich residence and Duncan House takes its named from a block of flats in Camden, where it will also be performed.
The theme of loss is explored in One Art, a monodrama exploring the poet Elizabeth Bishop’s response to loss through her poetry; Of Body and Ghost, a poetic dance-opera inspired by the ageing body and humanity’s desperation to delay the inevitability of bodily decline; and Voice(less), which uses voice and electronics to explore the loss of voice due to trauma or socio-political pressures. Other works that tap into the zeitgeist include Memories in Mind, a piece blending song and film about the Windrush Generation, 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. The festival will also see the return of its pop-up operas, with We Did Our Best and Aliens In The Street, both of which explore environmental themes.