What is Grimeborn?

The Arcola (Dalston)

Grimeborn is the annual opera festival at one of London’s coolest theatres, The Arcola. Over the last ten years, the festival has become the home for adventurous takes on familiar classics, resurrections of forgotten gems, and premieres of brand new works. This year there are no less than 16 productions. There are £12 tickets available for each one. It’s cheap, it’s accessible – and it’s mindblowing when you realise how much there is to the opera world. 

Don’t take our word for it. Here are some examples that we can’t wait for:

Bringing back unknown operas to life – like Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha

Somehow Scott Joplin, the ‘King of Ragtime’, is only known for his famous piano tune The Entertainer. But then you hear about an American opera-musical like this, entirely ahead of its time, entirely relevant still – and with a title like Treemonisha… well, you just kinda have to go!

See also Aaron Copland’s Twelve Poems by Emily Dickinson.

Radical takes on opera classics – like Die Fledermaus

Our very own artistic director Jo Turner and composer Leo Geyer return with a new take of Strauss’ classic. Working with designer Marina Hadjilouca and lighting designer Jack Weir, Baseless Fabric will bring our street opera indoors for two performances only, for an entirely new take on our style of relevant, irreverent opera re-imagining. Find out more here.

See also: Verdi’s Violletta, Rossini’s Count Ory, Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie.

Remaking Mozart – like Don Jo

Somehow Mozart inspires people to do radical rewrites. Like our Cosi Fan Tutte last year, and our general manager Leo’s Kim Kardashian mash-up of The Marriage of Figaro called The Marriage of Kim K which was also at Grimeborn in 2017!

This year, it’s Don Giovanni that is the subject of a remake – this time by the Arcola Queer Collective. We have no idea what exactly they’re going to do with it, but it sounds wildly original and extremely playful. We can’t wait.

Brand new operas – like Silk Moth

Three reasons this sounds groundbreaking:
– The music fuses Arabic and Western musical languages.
– The subject is honour crimes and family violence.
– The orchestra is Ruthless Jabiru, a London chamber orchestra dedicated to humanitarian stories.

See also: Origami Soundscapes and Cabildo.

Experience the exciting world of Fringe Opera

If you are used to going to The Royal Opera House or English National Opera, fringe opera festivals are different. It gives you the opportunity to hear brilliant singers and instrumentalists up close and personal. 


And there’s lots more on the Grimeborn website… We’ll hope to see you there!


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  • [Don Alfonso’s] challenge, and their resulting bet, comes about so naturally in this context that I began to wonder why every Cosi doesn’t start in a pub beer garden.

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