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Grimeborn returns to the Arcola for an eighth season

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

This year’s Grimeborn Festival runs at the Arcola Theatre from Monday, August 4 to Sunday, September 7, 2014.

The festival, which premiered in 2007, is now firmly established as an annual highlight in the classical calendar and is described by Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen as a “breeding ground for original voices and some of the stars of tomorrow.”

Created in an effort to give new and emerging composers, directors and singers a platform to present their work and encourage their development, the festival challenges traditional perceptions of opera, giving Grimeborn goers an experience they’re not likely to find elsewhere.



San Domino: A New Musical by Tim Anfilogoff and Alan Whittaker – Monday, August 4 to Wednesday, August 6 at 8pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 90 minutes.

Based on the reality of Mussolini’s persecution of homosexuals, this is the story of men sentenced to five years confinement for degeneracy. Actor-musicians interweave the historic drama of exiled gay men able to be “out” on this prison island.

Presented by TKD PROD LTD, San Domino is directed by Matthew Gould, with musical direction by James Cleeve and design by Jean Gray. The cast includes Mike Christie and Matthew Hendrickson.

Recommended for ages 12+.

The Medium by Gian Carlo Menotti – Thursday, August 14 to Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 60 minutes.

Composed in 1946, The Medium is an eerie story that follows the journey of a fraudulent psychic woman. Often referred to as a “musical drama”, The Medium will appeal to theatre, opera and even film audiences.

Presented by Operaview, The Medium is directed by Natalie Katsou. Musical director and pianist is Maite Aguirre and the cast includes Julia Sitkovetsky, Grainne Gillis, Rosie Bell, Patrick Holt and Charlie Avella.

Recommended for all ages.

Acis and Galatea by Handel – Wednesday, August 20 to Saturday, August 23 at 8pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 1 hour 35 minutes (plus interval).

Eboracum Baroque return to the Arcola to present Handel’s “little opera” accompanied by a small orchestra of period instruments. In this intimate setting, the audience are invited to join the wedding celebrations of Acis, a shepherd, and the semi-divine nymph Galatea. However, the couple’s delight is doomed when the jealous, raging giant Polyphemus discovers their love.

Acis and Galatea is directed by Jennifer Bakst and conducted by Chris Parsons. The cast includes Gareth Edmunds, Naomi Sturges, Nils Greenhow, Angie Hicks, Charlie Murray and the Eboracum Baroque Chorus.

Recommended for all ages.

Women Box (Songs for the M8 by Anna Meredith, Training by Jennifer Walshe and Women Conduct by Laura Bowler) – Monday, August 25 to Thursday, August 28 at 8pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 60 minutes.

Women Box is a triple bill of music theatre and opera celebrating the inclusion of Women’s Boxing in the Commonwealth Games and the rise of the female conductor. Through collaborating with ex-Female World Champion Boxer, Cathy ‘The Bitch’ Brown, and emerging female conductors, these works look at the varying roles of women in modern society.

Presented by Size Zero Opera and the Ligeti Quartet, Women Box is directed by Size Zero Opera Director in Residence, Matthew Monaghan. The cast includes Patrick Dawkins, Mandhira de Saram, Richard Jones, Valerie Welbanks and the Ligeti Quartet.

Recommended for ages 16+.

Shadows of Time – Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30 at 8pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 55 minutes.

The protagonists of this performance – shadow puppets and a trio of amplified flute, cello and piano – tell the story of a planet travelling through time. The ancient Mayans divided time into cycles of thirteen B’ak’tun; every cycle marks a time of renewal. Time cycles move increasingly faster, from the beginning of time, through the broad expanses of the geological eras to the creation of humankind. This is a story of hope and renewal, of humanity’s common history.

Presented by Marsyas Trio, Size Zero Opera and Smoking Apples, Shadows of Time has music by Mario Lavista, George Crumb and Laura Bowler and lighting design by Anthony Arblaster. The cast includes Helen Vidovich, Val Welbanks, Molly Freeman and Matt Lloyd.

Recommended for all ages.


Werther by Jules Massenet, French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann – Tuesday, August 19 to Saturday, August 23 (no performance on Thursday, August 21) at 7.30pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions.

This tragic tale of forbidden love tells the story of a young poet, Werther, and his muse, Charlotte. Werther quickly falls passionately in love with Charlotte before learning that she is promised to another man, Albert. Ruled by his infatuation for a woman he cannot have and questioning the purpose of life without her, Werther turns to thoughts of suicide.

Werther is directed by Aylin Bozok (Assistant Director Keiko Sumida), with musical direction by Philip Voldman, lighting by Joshua Pharo and costume design by Bora Aksu. The cast includes Adam Tunnicliffe, Katie Bray, Lucy Knight, Simon Wallfisch and Thomas Faulkner.

Recommended for ages 12+.

Madame X by Tim Benjamin – Monday, August 25 to Wednesday, August 27 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 1 hour 50 minutes (not including an interval).

Impoverished, cold and starving: Masetto, a brilliant painter, and Zerlina, his love and muse, are being ripped off by his unscrupulous agent and exploited by powerful and wealthy art collectors. Their plight becomes increasingly desperate and deadly, until at last: revenge.

Madame X is a new opera by Tim Benjamin, inspired by the Jacobean revenge drama and Handel’s Italian operas.

Presented by Radius, Madame X is directed by Tim Benjamin, with musical direction by Antony Brannick and design by Lara Booth. The cast includes Tom Morss, Laura Sheerin, Taylor Wilson, Owaine Browne, Marc Callahan, Rebecca Moon, Sophie Dicks, Edwin Pitt Mansfield and Jon Stainsby.

Recommended for ages 14+.

The Coronation of Poppea by Monteverdi, new translation by John Warrack – Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 2 hours 50 minutes.

Ryedale Festival Opera return to Grimeborn with Monteverdi’s greatest opera – an ‘immorality tale’ of power, lust and corruption in Imperial Rome.

Nero’s wife, Ottavia, is cast aside in favour of his mistress, Poppea; the philosopher Seneca is rewarded for his temperate and judicious advice by being forced to commit suicide; Poppea’s former lover, Ottone, is blackmailed into an unsuccessful attempt to murder her.

The Coronation of Poppea is directed by Nina Brazier, with musical direction by Christopher Glynn, design by Sophie Mosberger and lighting by Tom Boucher. The cast includes Maria Ostroukhova, Rose Stachniewska, Caroline Kennedy, Ben Williamson, Thomas Morss, Gwilym Bowen, Elizabeth Holmes, Stephanie Marshall, Rosie Aldridge, James Fisher, Charmian Bedford, Rebecca van den Berg, Timothy Murphy and Catherine Backhouse.

Recommended for all ages.

Aikainen by Miika Hyytiäinen – Monday, September 1 to Wednesday, September 3 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 80 minutes.

Aikainen presents audiences with the aspects of time: endings, realtime, generations, spacetime and memories. Audiences will experience 3D-printed Ocarinas, Möbius strip score, 3D-Norns, real-time composition, performance art, and the whole spectrum of the human voice, from cattle call cries and overtone singing to dramatic opera style.

Presented by Culture-cooperative ExClaM!, Aikainen is directed by Jaakko Nousiainen. The cast includes: vocal artists and singers Annika Fuhrmann and Frauke Aulbert; 5-person instrumental group Varjo Ensemble; voiceover, composer Miika Hyytiäinen writing music realtime; and 3D video opera singers Anu Komsi, Kaisa Näreranta and Tiina Sinkkonen.

Recommended for all ages.

Façade, with music by William Walton and text by Edith Sitwell and Eight Songs for a Mad King, with music by Peter Maxwell Davies and text by Randolph Stow and George III – Friday, September 5 to Sunday, September 7 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £15, £12 concessions. Running time: approximately 1 hour 30 minutes (including interval).

This unusual pairing will take audiences on a journey into the heart of twentieth-century musical innovation, whilst examining different states of human psychology and exploring what it means to be truly mad.

Both pieces are directed by Ella Marchment and the conductor is Oliver Zeffman. Set design is by Holly Pigott, lighting by Christopher Nairne and video design by Benjamin Fox. Façade is performed by Charmian Bedford and Danny Standing and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Samuel Pantcheff.

Recommended for all ages.

For more information or to book, visit