Tête à Tête Opera Festival: the best bits

The opera festival is back for another year, with 30 new and off-the-wall works. For starters, here are our top twelve shows of the series



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If you think operas are too long, too expensive or simply too operatic, get down to Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where the Tête à Tête Opera Festival (Thursday August 1– Sunday August 18) is presenting its seventh summer season. There are over 30 new, short, eccentric and entrancing shows to choose from, but here are our favourites this year.

Must-see shows at Tête à Tête 2013


Aug 1 and 2, 7-7.30pm

Bill Bankes-Jones directs a puppet opera, with music and words by Ergo Phizmiz.

And the Crowd (wept)

Aug 1 and 2, 7.55-8.55pm

Erick Flores’s meditation on the emptiness of the cult of celebrity, based on the life and death (in 2009) of reality TV star Jade Goody.

The End of Civilisation as We Know It

Aug 1 and 2, 9.15-10pm

Mezzo-soprano Lore Lixenberg stars in this comedy about an opera singer in Venice as the world is about to end.

La Belle de La Bête

Aug 1 and 2, 9.20-10pm

Sonia, a lively Barbadian, falls in love with English aristocrat Edward, but they are haunted by a history of slavery. With music by Pete Wyer.


Aug 3, 7.55-9.25pm; Aug 4, 5.55-7.25pm

Michael Betteridge’s restaurant-based musical spotlights your fellow diners and involves a three-course meal.

Mme Butterfly: The One Man Opera

Aug 3, 8.50-10pm and Aug 4, 4.50-6pm

Ignacio Jarquin stars in Michael Finnissy’s imagined sequel, which begins 30 years after the end of Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’.


Aug 8 and 9, 7-8pm

Arnie Gieshoff’s opera, inspired by Petronius’s racy masterpiece ‘The Satyricon’.

The Garden

Aug 8 and 9, 8.15-8.55pm

Walk to a mystery venue for John and Zinnie Harris’s story of a dysfunctional couple who discover a strange plant in the floor of their kitchen.


Aug 8 and 9, 9-10pm.

Darren Bloom’s opera about a young girl in 19th century colonial Africa, transformed into a social pariah.

The Secretary Turned CEO

Aug 10, 6.55pm-7.45pm and Aug 11, 2.55-3.45pm

Danyal Dhondy and Becca Marriott transpose Pergolesi’s comic intermezzo of 1733 to a modern-day workplace.

The Crocodile

Aug 15 and 16, 8.50-10.05pm

The great and good of St Petersburg University host a hungry beast at a party in Llywelyn ap Myrddin’s Dostoyevsky-based satire.

Maria de Buenos Aires

Aug 17, 6.55-8.25pm, and Aug 18, 3.25-4.55pm

The world’s only tango opera, composed by Astor Piazzolla, with words by poet Horacio Ferrer.

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