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Genre Opera festival
Location(s) Arcola Theatre, London
Years active 2007 to present
Founded by Mehmet Ergen

Grimeborn is an annual East London musical theatre and opera festival which coincides with the world famous East Sussex Glyndebourne Opera Festival. Founded by Arcola Theatre’s artistic director Mehmet Ergen in 2007, the festival is held at Arcola Theatre in Dalston, East London. It takes place in and around August, and is considered a dynamic alternative to the traditional "summer season".[citation needed]


The festival's name is a punning reference to Glyndebourne, as it deliberately supports emerging performers and writers, rather than the polished, prestigious output of Glyndebourne. The "grime" comes from it having a "dirtier" backdrop in a converted textile factory in the congested bustle of Hackney as opposed to the scenic gardens of East Sussex. The festival showcases new and experimental works. Many[who?] see Grimeborn as the fashionable alternative to Glyndebourne, due to its E8 location.

Originally devised as a contemporary contribution to the Battersea Arts Centre's (BAC) Opera Festival. The BAC Opera Festival's Artistic Director at the time, Tom Morris, asked Ergen, who was working at the BAC as an Associate Producer, to create something different from normal operatic preconceptions, in a manner similar to that of the Tête à Tête opera company at the Riverside Studios who were also taking the stage at the BAC Opera Festival that year. Grimeborn is an opera and musical theatre festival in its own right, with the Arcola Theatre its exclusive host. The 2010 Grimeborn programme was curated by director and actor Andrew Steggall who also oversaw the festival's first outing in 2007. He considers the festival to be "a testing ground for young opera and musical theatre practitioners".[citation needed]

Past performances[edit]


Curated by Mehmet Ergen and produced by Leyla Nazli (21 August - 8 September)

  • Il Tabarro. Composer: Giacomo Puccini, Director: Aylin Bozok, Music Director and Pianist: Philip Voldman
  • The Sound of a Voice (Presented by Volta Theatre). Composer: Philip Glass, Librettist: David Henry Hwang, Director: Andrea Ferran, Conductor: Tom Kelly
  • Hansel and Gretel (Presented by Opera at Home). Composer: Engelbert Humperdinck, Librettist: Adelheid Wette, Translator: David Pountey, Director: Jose Gandia
  • Bastien & Bastienne. Composer: Mozart, Translator: David Eaton, Director: Nina Brazier, Music Director and Pianist: David Eaton
  • Susanna's Secret. Composer: Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Translator: David Eaton, Director: Nina Brazier, Music Director and Pianist: David Eaton
  • Handel Furioso. Composer: George Frideric Handel, Director: Max Hoehn, Company: Anna Starushkevych, Pobyn Allegra Parton
  • The Emperor of Atlantis. Composer: Viktor Ullmann, Librettist: Peter Kien, Translator: Sonja Lyndon, Director: Max Hoehn, Conductor: Julian Black
  • La Voix Humaine (Presented by Motion Productions). Composer: Francis Poulenc, Librettist: Jean Cocteru, Soprano: Katerina Mina, Pianist: Jean-Yves Cornet, Director: Ilan Reichel
  • Tonseisha (Presented by Saltpeter). Composer: Kim B. Aston, Librettist: Erik Patterson, Director: Gary Merry
  • Unleashed (Presented by Fourfortytwo and The Blackburn Company) Composer: Philip Venables, Librettist and Director: Nick Blackburn
  • The Marriage of Figaro (Presented by Heritage Opera). Composer: Mozart, Translator: Chris Gill, Director: Sarah Helsby Hughes
  • Rigoletto (Presented by Heritage Opera). Composer: Giuseppe Verdi, Translator and Director: Sarah Helsby Hughes
  • Thirteen Days - The Musical. Composer and Lyricist: Alexander S. Bermange, Director: Matthew Gould, Musical Arrangements: Paul Bateman


  • The Emperor of Atlantis. Composer: Viktor Ullmann, Director: Max Hoehn, Musical Director: John Murton
  • The Turn of the Screw
  • The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Presented by The Opera Ensemble). Director: Selina Cadell, Designer: Guy Burnett
  • Alcina. Composer: Peter Foggit, Directors: Jenny Miller and Polly Graham
  • The Boy, the Forest and the Desert. Director: Alexandre Barriere, Designer: Flora Robertson
  • Prima la Musica/ Der Schauspieldirektor (Double Bill). Director: Jose Gandhia, Assistant Director: Rosemary Lane, Pianist: Ricardo Gosalbo
  • The Francis Bacon Opera. Composer: Stephen Crowe, Musical Director and Pianist: Genevieve Ellis
  • The Demon Lover
  • Savitri, Wandering Scholar (Presented by The Little Opera Company). Director: Daisy Evans
  • Mansfield Park (World premiere tour presented by Heritage Opera). Composer: Jonathan Dove, Director: Michael McCaffery, Musical Director: Chris Gill


Curated by Andrew Steggall and produced by Leyla Nazli (9 August – 21 September)[1]

  • The Prodigal Son (Benjamin Britten) & The Homecoming (Felix Mendelssohn set to the poem by Heinrich Heine). Director: Joe Austin, Musical Director: Elizabeth Burgess, Designer: Simon Kenny, Lighting Design: James Turner-Inman
  • Trouble in Tahiti (Leonard Bernstein). Conductor: Timothy Burke, Director: Nina Brazier, Designer Polly Webb-Wilson, Costume Designer: Giulia Scrimieri
  • Spilt Milk (Burke & Waterfield). Composer/conductor: Timothy Burke, Librettist: James Waterfield
  • The Rape of Lucretia (Benjamin Britten). Director: Max Key, Designer: Sarah Bacon, Conductor: Thomas Blunt
  • Vice (Jools Scott) to a libretto by Sue Curtis
  • The Raven (Matt Rogers). Director: Sinead O'Neill, Designer: Sarah Bacon
  • Crow (Michael Rouston). Director: Mark McInnes and Composer:
  • Poison Garden (D’Heudieres & Evans). Presented by Waistcoat Company. Direction, Design and Libretto: Daisy Evans, Music and Music Direction: Louis d'Heudieres
  • The Diaries of Adam and Eve (Composer/librettetist David Josiah Moore). Director: Ben Gwalchmai
  • How I Wonder (Composer/librettetist Dominique Le Gendre). Director: Irene Brown
  • The Stone Heart (Composed by Alexander Campkin set to a libretto by Lewis Reynolds)
  • Cocteau in the Underworld (Ed Hughes to libretto by Roger Morris) Presented by Heather Doole for Metta Theatre, Director: Poppy Burton-Morgan, Video, Set & Lighting and Designer: William Reynolds, Conductor: Carlos Del Cueto
  • Les Enfants Terribles (Philip Glass). Director: Andrea Ferran, Design: Sarah Bacon


Curated by Alex Sutton and produced by Leyla Nazli (24 August – 5 September)[2]

  • The Descent of Inanna: Bare Bones Version, Produced by: Opera Exchange
  • An Unorthodox 1-2 Produced by: Aurelie
  • Ride, Produced by: Filament, Composer: Osnat Schmool, Director: Sabina Netherclift
  • Phedre, Produced by: ElectrOpera, Composers: Sally Rodgers, Steve Jones, Director: Philippe Cherbonnier
  • Something Strange by Rebecca Applin and Michael Caines
  • To Die A Second Time, Produced by: Double Agent, Director: Teunkie Van Der Sluijs
  • The Tender Land by Aaron Copland, Produced by: Mad Cow Theatre Company, Director: Katherine Hare, Musical Director: Leigh Thompson, Choreographer: Racky Plews
  • The Savage (original story David Almond) & The Island (original story Armin Greeder), Composed, written and performed by the Arcola Youth Project under the guidance of Jenifer Toksvig (libretto) and Nick Sutton (music).
  • Disappeared, Produced by: The Theory of Everything, Devised and directed by: Pia Furtado and members of the cast, featuring traditional gypsy music Inspired by and featuring Janáček's song cycle.
  • The Work Of Art by Conor Mitchell and Jenifer Toksvig
  • Goodbye Barcelona, Produced by: Arcola Theatre, Composer: KS Lewkowicz, Playwright: Judith Johnson, Director: Karen Rabinowitz
  • Why Are Clowns?, Produced by: L'Oiseau Chante, Composer: Ewen Moore, Director: Aaron Paterson
  • Presenting... The News, Produced by: Size Zero Music Theatre, Composer & Director: Laura Jayne Bowler
  • Dante by Peter Longworth, Director: Holly McBride
  • The Wonderful Thing About Lizards by Lucy Smith, Director: Toria Banks
  • Abraham and Isaac, Produced by: Metta Theatre, Composer: Benjamin Britten, Director: Poppy Burton-Morgan
  • Pig, Greed (Jonathan Dove); Cinderella(Stephen Oliver Produced by: Bitesize Opera, Director: Toria Banks
  • Jephtha by Handel, Director: Ralph Bridle, Conductor: Wolfgang Kostner
  • Stolen Voices by Neyire Ashworth, Director & Co-devisor: Kath Burlinson
  • La Voix Humaine, Produced by: Renée Salewski & Flat Earth Theatre, Composer: Francis Poulenc, Librettist: Jean Cocteau, Director: Robin Norton-Hale
  • A Shropshire Lad, Produced by: Pst! Productions, Cast: Peter Shipman, Director: Jan-Willem van den Bosch
  • The Telephone by Gian Carlo Menotti, Director: Nina Brazier, Designer: Polly Webb-Wilson, Costumes: Giulia Scrimieri
  • The Singing Bone/Domestic, Produced by: The Stephen Crowe Ensemble, Composer: Stephen Crowe, Directors: Seonaid Goody and Stephen Crowe
  • The Woodcutter's Daughter, Produced by: Eclectic Opera, Composer: Richard Cartmale, Librettist: Buffy Sharpe, Cast: Belinda Evans, Glenn Tweedie, Peter Shipman
  • Songs Of Alchemy, Produced by: Eclectic Opera, Composer: Kirsten Morrison, Director: Jan-Willem van den Bosch
  • Grimethorpe Race Presented by: Shared Property Theatre Company Directors: Lizzie Newman and Rachel Parish, Designer: Lucy Sierra, Scenic Artist: Zoe Parsons
  • The Spoils, Produced by: Shady Dolls Theatre Company, Composer: Paul Englishby, Director: Steven Dykes
  • Music Theatre Now - a cabaret evening dedicated to new musical theatre writing. Featured Composers: Conor Mitchell, Adam Guettel, Raymond Yiu, Ricky Ian Gordon, Tim Saward, Matt Print Director: Alex Sutton, Musical Direction: Leigh Thompson, Cast: Clare Burt and the London Show Choir
  • Figaro - The Loyal Subject, Produced by: Grimeborn Opera, Composers: Mozart, Rossini, Milhaud, Adaptator & Director: Barnaby Rayfield
  • Why Don't You Just Sing Jazz?, Produced by: Opera in Colour, Writer & Director: Roger Mortimer-Smith, Devised and produced by: Nadine Mortimer-Smith, Musical Direction: Peter Crockford
  • Hothouse, Directed by: Sophie Austin, Musical Direction: Jamie Fagg, Produced by: Kas Darley and Sophie Austin


Curated by Daniele Guerra and produced by Michael Harris and Leyla Nazli (4–23 August)[3]

  • The Old Maid and the Thief - composer/librettist: Gian Carlo Menotti; director: Nina Brazier; conductor: Timothy Burke
  • A Man of Feeling - composer/librettist: Stephen Oliver; director: Anthony Baker; music director: Tim Henty; soprano: Lisa Wilson; baritone: John Savournin; pianist: James Young
  • Dreamspiel - performed by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; composer: George Hincliffe; librettist: Michelle Carter
  • Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) - composer: Gustav Mahler; director: Janwillen van den Bosch; pianist: Linda Ang
  • The Elephant's Child - performed by Metta Theatre; composer: Jessica Dannheisser; director: Poppy Burton-Morgan
  • The Nightingale and the Rose - composer/librettist: Jenny Gould; director: Tom Mansfield
  • Desire Caught by the Tail - composer: Joseph Finlay; director: Max Webster; associate director: Rachel Grunwald
  • Goodbye Barcelona - book: Judith Johnson; music and lyrics: Karl Lewkowicz; director: Mehmet Ergen
  • ASH - composer: Rachel Fuller; librettist/director: Jack Shepherd
  • Opera of Surveillance - performed by Conversations with Sound and The Irrepressibles; composer/voice practitioner: Jamie McDermott; sound design: William Turner Duffin
  • My Feet May Take a Little While (The Errollyn Wallen Songbook) - composer/music director: Errollyn Wallen; director: Daniele Guerra
  • Man with a Movie Camera - based on the score composed by Michael Nyman for the British Film Institute's 2002 release of the silent movie Man with a Movie Camera; director: Nigel Lowery
  • Kaspar Hauser - based on the story of Kaspar Hauser; composer: Alexis Pope; librettist/director: Anke Rauthmann; musical director: Philip Headlam; designer: Num Stibbe
  • Pierrot Lunaire - performed by Cornucopia Theatre Company; composer: Arnold Schönberg to poems by Albert Giraud; director: Mark Duncan
  • Choice - performed by Citric Acid Productions
  • Astyanax - by Waterfield & Burke
  • A Little Chamber Music - based on the work by Hindemith
  • The Boy Who Said Yes by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill; musical director: Timothy Burke; director: Alex Sutton
  • The Girl Who Liked to be Thrown Around - performed by Madestrange Opera; composer: Michael Oliva; text: Michael Oliva and Deepak Kalha
  • The Bacchae - composer/librettist/musical & artistic director: Alexis Pope; soprano: Tatjana Kiliani; tenor: Emmanuel Fort; bass: Andrew Young; First Bacchae: Sibylla Meienberg
  • Stabat Mater - adapted by Buffy Sharpe from Pergolesi's Stabat Mater; performed by Eclectic Opera; director: Poppy Burton-Morgan; soprano: Anna Gregory; countertenor: Peter Shipman; actress: Sarah Paul
  • Holoray Holiday - book and lyrics: Rebecca and Sharon Nassauer; composer: Sharon Nassauer; director: Michael Alvarez; musical director: Candida Caldicot


Curated by Andrew Steggall and produced by Michael Harris and Leyla Nazli (19 August- 2 September)[4]

  • The Crocodile - composed by Llywelyn ap Myrddin.
  • Hey Jack - composed by Sharon Nassauer, Lyrics by Jackson Lee and directed by Loveday Ingram.
  • Nosferatu
  • Opera Cabaret
  • The Tales of Hoffmann - based on Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann
  • Dichterliebe - composed by Robert Schumann to poetry by Heinrich Heine
  • Devils Drum
  • Arianna a Naxos - based on Haydn's cantata of the same name
  • Visions of 7 – conceived and composed by Joanna Foster, performed by 'Anima' with Javier Carmona on percussion.
  • Vice - jazz opera based on The Revenger's Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur. Written by Jools Scott and Sue Curtis. Directed by Sue Curtis.
  • The Universal Will to Self-Destruct
  • Flood - composed & written by Kirsten Morrison and Buffy Sharpe. Visuals by Franny Armstrong.
  • Pierre - adapted by composer Richard Beaudoin, conducted by Christopher Ward, directed by Andrew Steggall, and played by Constantine Finehouse. The cast included Joseph Kaiser (Tamino in Kenneth Branagh's film The Magic Flute),
  • Persephone
  • Fountain Sealed - by Nathan Williamson, Thomas Walton and James Methven.

See also[edit]



External links[edit]