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CLASSICAL AND JAZZ: The sixth Grimeborn Opera Festival opens in Dalston next week

Katerina Mina will star in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine Picture: Studio Minas

Published: 16 August, 2012

THE sixth Grimeborn Opera Festival opens in Dalston next week, presenting affordable opera for urban younger audiences.

All tickets cost £18 each – £14 for concessions – which contrasts sharply with the summer opera season in English country houses patronised by the wealthy, able to afford tickets costing up to £250 each.

This year, Grimeborn has 12 operas performed over 18 days in the iconic Arcola Tent in Ashwin Street as the main Arcola Theatre is being renovated.

“The festival programme includes a stimulating mix of timeless classics by Puccini, Verdi and Mozart and new operas with challenging and provocative themes,” promises festival curator Mehmet Ergen.

Edgy subject matter is prominent with operas dealing with suffering and loss in Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humane and extreme seclusion in Philip Glass’s The Sound of a Voice, getting its UK premiere at the festival.

Then there’s sexual violence in a new Philip Venables piece, and even greed through a dramatic retelling of Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel.

This year’s festival opener on August 21 is Puccini’s one-act Il Tabarro/The Cloak, the first of three operas known as Il Trittico.

Next is Philip Glass’s 2003 work The Sound of a Voice about the dreams and fantasies of a Japanese writer and an ageing warrier.

Then there’s a contemporary spin in Opera at Home’s production of Hansel & Gretel in a new David Poultney translation: the wicked witch is a banker.

Poulenc’s iconic one-woman “telephonic” opera La Voix Humaine is being performed by magnificent London-based Greek-Cypriot soprano Katerina Mina.

It’s being paired with two new operas. One is Kim B Ashton’s Tonseisha, depicting a young Japanese woman haunted by the loss of two men, and the second is Philip Venables’ new piece, Unleashed, about sexual deviancy.

Another new work, Thirteen Days – The Musical by Alexander Bermange, casts the 1962 Cuban missile crisis as its backdrop.

Max Hoehn is reviving his production of Viktor Ullman’s one-act The Emperor of Atlantis, written in the Theresienstadt concentration camp around 1943.

Both Ullmann and his librettist Peter Kien died in Auschwitz.

Heritage Opera is performing Verdi’s Rigoletto and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

It’s also putting on a double-bill – a very early Mozart, Bastien und Bastienne, written when he was 12, coupled with a piece by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Susanna’s Secret.

• For more information and tickets call 020 7503 1646 or visit


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