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GenreOpera festival
Location(s)Arcola Theatre, London
Years active2007 to present
Founded byMehmet 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 tends to showcase new and experimental works alongside radical productions of classic opera, using both the Arcola's performing stages.


The festival's name is a punning reference to Glyndebourne. The "grime" element refers to the "dirtier" backdrop of the Arcola Theatre, a converted textile factory in the congested bustle of Hackney as opposed to the scenic gardens of East Sussex.

Originally, Grimeborn was 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 Tête à Tête, who were also taking the stage at the BAC Opera Festival that year. Grimeborn became an opera and musical theatre festival in its own right, with the Arcola Theatre its exclusive host.

Past performances[edit]


Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
A Hand of Bridge /Sands of Time /Le 66 Samuel Barber, Peter Reynolds, Jacques Offenbach Irrational Theatre Peter Jones Paula Chitty Paula Chitty
Aurora Noah Mosley Bury Court Opera Noah Mosley Aylin Bozok Holly Piggott
Cabildo Amy Beach Jessie Anand productions John Warner Emma Jude Harris Max Nicholson-Lailey
Count Ory Gioachino Rossini Opera Alegría Lindsay Bramley Ben Newhouse-Smith
Das Rheingold Richard Wagner, in a reduced version by Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick Arcola Theatre Peter Selwyn Julia Burbach Bettina John
Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss II, adapted by Leo Geyer Baseless Fabric Theatre Leo Geyer Joanna Turner Joanna Turner
Don Jo Arcola Participation Queer Collective (after Mozart) Arcola Participation Nick Bonadies Leo Doulton
Hippolyte et Aricie Jean-Philippe Rameau Ensemble OrQuesta Marcio da Silva Christian Hey
Hotspur /Pierrot Lunaire Gillian Whitehead /Arnold Schoenberg formidAbility & SignDance International Scott Wilson Sara Brodie Sara Brodie
I Capuleti e i Montecchi Vincenzo Bellini Over the Pond Kelvin Lim Lysanne van Overbeek
Leyla Gencer: La Diva Turca (documentary film) Zeynep Oral (writer) IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts) Selçuk Metin
Miss Havisham's Wedding Night /Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson Dominick Argento /Aaron Copland Great Expectations David Eaton Ralph Bridle Amy Watts
Origami Soundscapes /The Crane Verity Lane Verity Lane Verity Lane
Sane and Sound Matt Geer Sane and Sound Opera Company Finan Jones Katie Bunting Sam Harris
Silk Moth /The Heart's Ear /Bel Canto Bushra El-Turk /Liza Lim /Cassandra Miller Ruthless Jabiru Kelly Lovelady Heather Fairbairn Charlotte Henery
Treemonisha Scott Joplin Spectra Ensemble Matthew Lynch Cecilia Stinton Raphaé Memon
Violetta Giuseppe Verdi (reduced version of La traviata) Opera Allegra William Green Ashley Pearson Martin Berry


List not complete: awaiting further additions

Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
Greek (30th anniversary production) Mark-Anthony Turnage Arcola Theatre Tim Anderson Jonathan Moore Baśka Wesołowska
Lucia di Lammermoor Gaetano Donizetti Fulham Opera Ben Woodward Sarah Hutchinson Anna Yates
The Prometheus Revolution Keith Burstein Fulham Opera Ben Woodward Sophie Gilpin Sunny Smith
The Boatswain's Mate Ethel Smyth Spectra Ensemble John Warner Cecilia Stinton Christianna Mason


List not complete: awaiting further additions

Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
Armide Jean-Baptiste Lully Ensemble OrQuesta Marcio da Silva Marcio da Silva
Porgy and Bess George Gershwin
Samson and Delilah Camille Saint-Saëns Arcola Theatre Kelvin Lim Aylin Bozok Aylin Bozok
The Diary of One Who Disappeared Leos Janáček Shadwell Opera Matthew Fletcher Jack Furness Jack Furness


List not complete: awaiting further additions

Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
The Medium /The Wanton Sublime Peter Maxwell Davies /Tarik O'Regan Opera Room Productions Andrew Griffiths Robert Shaw Gillian Argo
Daphne Richard Strauss Opera at Home José Manuel Gandia José Manuel Gandia
Gala Ergo Phizmiz Ergo Phizmiz Luis Carvajal


List not complete: awaiting further additions

Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
The Medium  Gian Carlo Menotti OperaView Maite Aguirre Natalie Katsou Maria Kalamara
Madame X Tim Benjamin Radius Anthony Brannick Lara Booth
Werther Jules Massenet Philip Voldman Aylin Bozok


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

Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
Il tabarro  Giacomo Puccini Philip Voldman Aylin Bozok
The Sound of a Voice Philip Glass Volta Theatre Tom Kelly Andrea Ferran
Hansel and Gretel Engelbert Humperdinck Opera at Home Jose Gandia
Bastien und Bastienne Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart David Eaton Nina Brazier
Susanna's Secret Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari David Eaton Nina Brazier
Handel Furioso George Frideric Handel Max Hoehn
The Emperor of Atlantis Viktor Ullmann Julian Black Max Hoehn
La voix humaine Francis Poulenc Motion Productions Jean-Yves Cornet Ilan Reichel
Tonseisha Kim B. Aston Saltpeter Gary Merry
Unleashed Philip Venables Fourfortytwo and The Blackburn Company Nick Blackburn
The Marriage of Figaro Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Heritage Opera Sarah Helsby Hughes
Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi Heritage Opera Sarah Helsby Hughes
Thirteen Days - The Musical Alexander S. Bermange, arr. Paul Bateman Matthew Gould


Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
Mansfield Park (World premiere tour) Jonathan Dove Heritage Opera Chris Gill Michael McCaffery
Savitri Wandering Scholar The Little Opera Company Daisy Evans
The Demon Lover
The Emperor of Atlantis Viktor Ullmann John Murton Max Hoehn
The Turn of the Screw Benjamin Britten
The Diary of One Who Disappeared Leos Janáček The Opera Ensemble Selina Cadell Guy Burnett
Alcina Peter Foggit Jenny Miller and Polly Graham
The Boy, the Forest and the Desert Alexandre Barriere Flora Robertson
Prima la Musica /Der Schauspieldirektor Ricardo Gosalbo Jose Gandhia
The Francis Bacon Opera Stephen Crowe Genevieve Ellis


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

Opera Composer Production Company Conductor or Music Director Director Designer
The Rape of Lucretia Benjamin Britten Thomas Blunt Max Key Sarah Bacon
Spilt Milk Timothy Burke (libretto by James Waterfield)
Trouble in Tahiti Leonard Bernstein Timothy Burke Nina Brazier Polly Webb-Wilson
The Prodigal Son /The Homecoming Benjamin Britten /Felix Mendelssohn Elizabeth Burgess Joe Austin Simon Kenny
Vice Jools Scott (libretto by Sue Curtis)
The Raven Matt Rogers Sinead O'Neill Sarah Bacon
Crow Michael Rouston Mark McInnes
Poison Garden Louis d'Heudieres (libretto by Daisy Evans) Waistcoat Company Louis d'Heudieres Daisy Evans Daisy Evans
The Diaries of Adam and Eve David Josiah Moore Ben Gwalchmai
How I Wonder Dominique Le Gendre Irene Brown
The Stone Heart Alexander Campkin (libretto by Lewis Reynolds)
Cocteau in the Underworld Ed Hughes (libretto by Roger Morris) Heather Doole for Metta Theatre Carlos Del Cueto Poppy Burton-Morgan William Reynolds
Les Enfants Terribles Philip Glass Andrea Ferran 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 Deaths of Children) - composer: Gustav Mahler; producer/performer: Siobhan Mooney, Mezzo Soprano with Devon Harrison, Baritone and lip-synch-mime artists, Dickie Beau and Lisa Lee - semi-staged and re-imagined by Siobhan Mooney as an anguished duet of blame between Father and Mother. Loosely based on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann 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. Directed by Alex Sutton.
  • 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. Performed by Kirsten Morrison Soprano, Siobhan Mooney Mezzo Soprano and Oliver Gibbs Baritone 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 - a masque in the making. Words by Simon Rae, music by Sue Casson. Amongst the performers Felix Kemp and Sue Casson.
  • Fountain Sealed - by Nathan Williamson, Thomas Walton and James Methven.

See also[edit]



External links[edit]