Innovative opera company Tête à Tête has announced details of the new productions that will form its summer season for 2022, including a world premiere and a showcase of six pieces by music students.

Odysseys is a collection of six new mini-operas created by composers and performed by singers studying at the Royal College of Music, produced in association with the college and Tête à Tête.

The journey to self-acceptance is one of the great storylines in opera, and the composers will lead the audience on an odyssey through six vivid operatic worlds. The Three Penelopes is by Richie Johnsen and Sam Norman; Growing Wings is by Eluned Davies and Alfie Coates; Gilbert Feathers is by Michael Hughes and Jack Crowe; Flights is by Tymon Zgorzelski, Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft; Gerstl is by Liam Dougherty; and My Days as a Zombie on Earth is by Darren Sng.

In each of these short operas, the protagonist embarks on the journey of a lifetime – from the metamorphosis of a butterfly to a zombie on a quest to regain his humanity.

The production is directed by Tête à Tête’s founder and artistic director Bill Bankes-Jones. The conductor is the company’s music director Timothy Burke. Set design is by Sarah Jane Booth.

Performances take place at the Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre on 14 May at 7pm and 15 May at 3pm. The latter concert will also be livestreamed on the college’s YouTube account as part of the RCM Live initiative. Tickets for the live performances cost £10.

With music by composer David Bruce and words by poet and librettist Glyn Maxwell, and based on the much-loved children’s book by Philip Pullman, The Firework-Maker’s Daughter (2013) tells the story of Lila.

She dreams of becoming a firework-maker like her father, but to complete her apprenticeship, she must learn a difficult and dangerous secret – one that her father refuses to tell her. So she starts off alone on a quest for hidden knowledge. Along the way she will meet goddesses, demons, pirates and lovesick elephants.

This new production is directed by Bill Bankes-Jones. It will feature soprano Lixin Liu as Lila, tenor Ryan Vaughan Davies as Chulak, countertenor Feargal Mostyn-Williams as Hamlet, William Dalzeley as Lalchand and bass-baritone Andrew Slater as Rambashi.

Performances take place on 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29 June and 1 July at Penzance’s Minack Theatre in Cornwall. A final show is at Prideaux Place, Padstow, Cornwall, on 3 July. Tickets cost from £10 and are available now.

HOME is a new community opera led by Tête à Tête music director Timothy Burke. It explores what the concept ‘home’ means to the people of North Shields, Tyne and Wear, through spoken word, song, dance and music.

Written by and for the performers themselves, it brings together 230 residents of North Shields in a confidence-building and interactive creative process where they dance, sing and act. They will be accompanied by three professional vocal soloists and members of the Royal Northern Sinfonia in collaboration with Tyne Coast Arts Collective, a new group of Tyneside-based professional opera singers and creatives.

Penny, a R&D participant for the opera, commented: “I have to tell you, I was sobbing several times during it. It just really, really had such an emotional impact. It was just the most wonderful thing to do. I loved it.”

HOME will be performed at The Parks Sports Centre in North Shields on 16 July.

Tête à Tête has also announced the dates of its forthcoming festival: 15 August-11 September, with events across London and online. Further details are yet to be revealed.



HOME is a new community opera by the people of North Shields; it forms part of opera company Tête à Tête’s new summer season.