The fourteenth Tete a Tete Opera Festival is currently taking place at The Cockpit Theatre, London, as well as online. Its aim is to produce “extraordinary opera in extraordinary places” from Stavanger to Shetland. And gives opportunities for young, as well as not so young, composers, librettists and performers to stage the most expensive of art forms.
One of this year’s productions is EXPO MYCO “a Thread Through Change”, staged by Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera. Originally three short operas, these now form one 45 minute work in three scenes, and are clearly still “work in progress” and highly experimental – almost avantgarde – as well as being not what the average opera-goer might expect at Glyndebourne or Covent Garden!
The first Adventures through Mother’s sewing Box is by JEFSMN, – plunged into isolation a girl makes an imaginary journey through her mother’s sewing box experiencing many emotions enroute. The other two scenes Adela (Patrick Shepherd and Arabella Watkiss) and Glimmerings (Dan Nolan and Sam Woof McColl) were composed pre-pandemic and show a half-real half-digital operatic landscape.
All three certainly push the boundaries of opera, and pack a punch in their running time of forty-five minutes. Having experienced them online it would have greatly helped if there had been surtitles/English translation on the screen as they were very difficult to follow and fully appreciate, but one understands that this would probably have cost more money than was available.
The music is sometimes quite complex, at other times deceptively simple, but one can imagine that “live” they would feel more involving. All those taking part must be congratulated, especially Louis de Satgé in Glimmerings, Amy Kearsley as Adela, in perhaps the most immediately appreciable scene, and Mia Serracino-Inglott who appears twice. All give their utmost to make these short pieces work and extend our understanding of what opera can be.
Tickets for live operas at The Cockpit start at £5, and online from £1, so, if you like theatre which is often challenging do not hesitate.
Review by John Groves