Grimeborn Opera Festival will be coming to east London for its 14th year, organiser Arcola Theatre has revealed. The event will showcase bold new versions of classic operas, rarely seen and long-forgotten works and brand new pieces from exciting up-and-coming talent.

“Whether it’s your first or your latest opera experience, you’ll be right at home at Arcola’s 14th Grimeborn Opera Festival,” the organisers said in a statement.

The first show is a new production of Wagner’s Die Walküre (The Valkyrie, 1876) by Jonathan Dove. The piece is directed by award-winning opera director Julia Burbach, while Music Director Peter Selwyn conducts the Orpheus Sinfonia. The production will be staged at the iconic Hackney Empire.

In this bold reimagining of the second part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, two strangers, Sieglinde and Siegmund, meet in a storm. Their encounter turns into an all-consuming love affair. But their connection is not all as it seems.

Die Walküre takes place from 4-7 August with a running time of 3 hours and 10 minutes, including an interval. Tickets cost from £15.

The festival’s four remaining productions take place in Arcola Outside, a brand new outdoor performance space with an open-air bar. Created in response to the Covid-19 health crisis, Arcola Outside provides a safe space for theatre companies to perform and people to gather.

In the first of these, Ensemble OrQuesta returns to Grimeborn for the fourth time with an innovative interpretation of Handel’s Alcina (1735), a compelling opera of desire, power and rage.

Soprano Helen May leads a talented cast as the dangerous seductress who falls from a self-centred reign of terror to the depths of despair. This new production delves into sexual harassment, sexual fluidity, addiction and toxic behaviour.

The production runs from 25-29 August, and is 2 hours and 15 minutes with an interval. Tickets cost from £21.

Hopes and Fears is a compelling new opera telling the story of two very different women living with cancer. A mother waits for her son, fearing she may die before seeing him again, while elsewhere two young lovers struggle to find the words to say goodbye.

Setting the music of Claude Debussy, the libretto has been written by Olivier Award-nominated Becca Marriott and arranged by award-winning pianist and musical director Panaratos Kyriatzidis. Soprano Marriott also sings the role of the Patient.

The opera takes place from 1-4 September and has a running time of 1 hour and 15 minutes; there is no interval. Tickets cost from £21.

Barefoot Opera presents a unique double bill which asks the question: what would you do for love? The production combines a well-loved favourite with an operatic rarity that share a common theme: the search for love and inspiration in a dangerous world.

Gluck’s famous Orfeo ed Euridice (1762) is the composer’s most popular work and a fixture of the operatic repertoire. Mascagni’s one-act Zanetto (1896), on the other hand, is rarely performed.

The former retells the classic Greek tale of love and loss in which Orfeo embarks on a dangerous journey into the underworld to find and save his one true love Euridice. But his success depends on Orfeo himself. In Zanetto, Silvia, a rich and beautiful courtesan, is loved by many but desperate to find someone she can love in return. However, she quickly discovers that you must be careful what you wish for when she falls for the youthful and wandering poet Zanetto.

The show runs from 5-8 September and 2 hours. Tickets cost from £21.

The final production takes place for one night only, on 11 September. The Wild Stage presents The Tango Collective: The Piazzolla Project, a celebration of the music of tango composer Astor Piazzolla in the year that would have been his 100th birthday.

The show runs for 65 minutes. Tickets cost from £21.

Tickets for all productions are available now. See Arcola Theatre’s website for details.



Pushing the boundaries of opera for 14 years, Grimeborn Opera Festival returns to east London this summer.