Inventive shows and fresh talent at North London's opera festival

Unearthing the Future

Unearthing The Future is the theme of the 2021 Tete a Tete opera festival - Credit: Courtesy of Tete a Tete

There's a futuristic theme at this year's Tête à Tête opera festival with new shows about a human robot romance, an operatic dating app, and a techno rave.

Founded in 1997 by a director, a conductor, and an arts administrator, Tête à Tête styles itself the home of new opera with a mission to refresh the 400-year-old art form for contemporary audiences.

Through more than 500 experimental productions, it has offered a platform for emerging performance and creative talent from diverse backgrounds, cultures, ages and sexual identities.

Ladies of Midnight Blue

Ladies of Midnight Blue appear at the free Cubbitt sessions in Coal Drops Yard as part of the Tete a Tete Opera Festival - Credit: Claire Shovelton

Following on from last summer's Festival which saw live performances at The Cockpit in Marylebone, the 2021 line up runs at The Cockpit, Hackney's Round Chapel and as part of the free Cubitt Sessions in Coal Drops Yard Kings Cross - with most shows also broadcast live.

 Tete a Tete opera festival

One of the new operas at the Tete a Tete opera festival - Credit: Claire Shovelton

Artistic Director Bill Bankes-Jones said: "After the roller-coaster of 2020 where despite it all we still built a festival as good as ever, it's an honour to collaborate with so many brilliant, resilient artists for the 2021 festival which unearths the future. With operas ranging from sword-fighting sopranos to an operatic techno rave, we have something to transport you with us into a bright new future for opera."

Nadine Benjamin in Beam at Tete a Tete Opera Festival

Nadine Benjamin in Beam at Tete a Tete Opera Festival - Credit: Claire Shovelton

With a theme of Unearthing The Future, the eclectic programme also takes in literature, feminism and fashion.

* A Guide To The Lakes is an operatic tour of the Lake District based on the words of Dorothy and William Wordsworth.

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* Fashion-opera and 'cosmological fantasy' RUNE at the Round Chapel is a blend of contemporary dance, song, interactive sculpture and fashion by Ka Wa Key.

* Bingen TV is a documentary opera about queer-feminist garden spaces run by a mediaeval mystic Hildegard von Bingen.

* Shut Down The Club, is an operatic rave based on six nightlife characters who have spent months socially distanced and are now contemplating post Covid clubbing.

* Until the Trans Lady Sings is a spoken word piece about an aspiring singer wrestling with gender and vocal identities while Singlr explores the world's first operatic dating app.

* O Helena sees a pair of unlikely lovers – the robot Primus and the human Helena – attempt to upload Helena’s failing mind and is underscored by spontaneously-created AI music.

* The Unravelling Fantasia of Miss H is a poetic portrayal of a Victorian woman who has spent years in an asylum for being outspoken, and Her War reveals parallels between nurses traumatised after WWI, and contemporary medics with pandemic-induced PTSD.

* The Monk of the River weaves Chinese and Western musical instruments and Chinese folk mythology to tell the story of a Buddhist sent on a journey west to secure sacred scriptures.

Tête à Tête runs July 27 until September 17.