Tête à Tête kicks off tomorrow in London, running until 13th August. I’ve long wanted to experience the festival, probably the UK’s liveliest forum for new opera, so am today heading to London for the first two days of the proceedings. The five operas I will be seeing give a fairly good idea of the sort of the range and relevance the festival offers.
Things kick off on Tuesday with Dr Ferret’s Bad Medicine Roadshow. Inspired by Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children, it tells ‘several stories of Matilda, whose lies ignited a terrible fire, Henry King who ate too much string, and George, a little boy who causes lot of trouble…’ There then follows Litugie, a work that explores the story of the Virgin Mary in the realisation of a concept that actually began with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. The final work on the first day, is ID, Please, which addressed themes of immigration, identity and xenophobia in the age of Brexit and Trump. On Wednesday 26th is Pterodactyls of Ptexas, an electronic opera set in the Wild West. It features ‘trigger-happy cowgirls, gyrating dinosaurs, and saloon brawls.’ Then there is The United Kingdom of Earth: A Brexit Opera. I’m hoping that this might provide me with some light relief from the stresses of being British and living on the continent in uncertain times.
If these operas entice, then there is still time to get tickets for them. Alternatively, do take a look at the rest of the programme, which is stuffed full of similar delights. Also I should make mention of two pre-festival events that can be experienced today. There is Belongings, which is inspired by items of luggage carried by railway passengers and will receive its premiere on the Caledonian Sleeper as it makes its journey from Aberdeen to Eston Station tonight. There will also be pop-up performances of the work throughout the festival. Road Memoir, finally, is a free twelve episode podcast opera available today. It follows the story of a woman forced to flee her home, turning from citizen to refugee.