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.

GenreOpera festival
Location(s)Arcola Theatre, London
Years active2007 to present
Founded byMehmet Ergen


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


OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
A Hand of Bridge /Sands of Time /Le 66Samuel Barber, Peter Reynolds, Jacques OffenbachIrrational TheatrePeter JonesPaula ChittyPaula Chitty
AuroraNoah MosleyBury Court OperaNoah MosleyAylin BozokHolly Piggott
CabildoAmy BeachJessie Anand ProductionsJohn WarnerEmma Jude HarrisMax Nicholson-Lailey
Count OryGioachino RossiniOpera AlegríaLindsay BramleyBen Newhouse-Smith
Das RheingoldRichard Wagner, in a reduced version by Jonathan Dove and Graham VickArcola TheatrePeter SelwynJulia BurbachBettina John
Die FledermausJohann Strauss II, adapted by Leo GeyerBaseless Fabric TheatreLeo GeyerJoanna TurnerJoanna Turner
Don JoArcola Participation Queer Collective (after Mozart)Arcola ParticipationNick BonadiesLeo Doulton
Hippolyte et AricieJean-Philippe RameauEnsemble OrQuestaMarcio da SilvaChristian Hey
Hotspur /Pierrot LunaireGillian Whitehead /Arnold SchoenbergformidAbility & SignDance InternationalScott WilsonSara BrodieSara Brodie
I Capuleti e i MontecchiVincenzo BelliniOver the PondKelvin LimLysanne 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 DickinsonDominick Argento /Aaron CoplandGreat ExpectationsDavid EatonRalph BridleAmy Watts
Origami Soundscapes /The CraneVerity LaneVerity LaneVerity Lane
Sane and SoundMatt GeerSane and Sound Opera CompanyFinan JonesKatie BuntingSam Harris
Silk Moth /The Heart's Ear /Bel CantoBushra El-Turk /Liza Lim /Cassandra MillerRuthless JabiruKelly LoveladyHeather FairbairnCharlotte Henery
TreemonishaScott JoplinSpectra EnsembleMatthew LynchCecilia StintonRaphaé Memon
ViolettaGiuseppe Verdi (reduced version of La traviata)Opera AllegraWilliam GreenAshley PearsonMartin Berry


List not complete: awaiting further additions

OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
Greek (30th anniversary production)Mark-Anthony TurnageArcola TheatreTim AndersonJonathan MooreBaśka Wesołowska
Lucia di LammermoorGaetano DonizettiFulham OperaBen WoodwardSarah HutchinsonAnna Yates
The Prometheus RevolutionKeith BursteinFulham OperaBen WoodwardSophie GilpinSunny Smith
The Boatswain's MateEthel SmythSpectra EnsembleJohn WarnerCecilia StintonChristianna Mason


List not complete: awaiting further additions

OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
ArmideJean-Baptiste LullyEnsemble OrQuestaMarcio da SilvaMarcio da Silva
Porgy and BessGeorge Gershwin
Samson and DelilahCamille Saint-SaënsArcola TheatreKelvin LimAylin BozokAylin Bozok
The Diary of One Who DisappearedLeos JanáčekShadwell OperaMatthew FletcherJack FurnessJack Furness


List not complete: awaiting further additions

OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
The Medium /The Wanton SublimePeter Maxwell Davies /Tarik O'ReganOpera Room ProductionsAndrew GriffithsRobert ShawGillian Argo
DaphneRichard StraussOpera at HomeJosé Manuel GandiaJosé Manuel Gandia
GalaErgo PhizmizErgo PhizmizLuis Carvajal


List not complete: awaiting further additions

OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
The Medium Gian Carlo MenottiOperaViewMaite AguirreNatalie KatsouMaria Kalamara
Madame XTim BenjaminRadiusAnthony BrannickLara Booth
WertherJules MassenetPhilip VoldmanAylin Bozok


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

OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
Il tabarro Giacomo PucciniPhilip VoldmanAylin Bozok
The Sound of a VoicePhilip GlassVolta TheatreTom KellyAndrea Ferran
Hansel and GretelEngelbert HumperdinckOpera at HomeJose Gandia
Bastien und BastienneWolfgang Amadeus MozartDavid EatonNina Brazier
Susanna's SecretErmanno Wolf-FerrariDavid EatonNina Brazier
Handel FuriosoGeorge Frideric HandelMax Hoehn
The Emperor of AtlantisViktor UllmannJulian BlackMax Hoehn
La voix humaineFrancis PoulencMotion ProductionsJean-Yves CornetIlan Reichel
TonseishaKim B. AstonSaltpeterGary Merry
UnleashedPhilip VenablesFourfortytwo and The Blackburn CompanyNick Blackburn
The Marriage of FigaroWolfgang Amadeus MozartHeritage OperaSarah Helsby Hughes
RigolettoGiuseppe VerdiHeritage OperaSarah Helsby Hughes
Thirteen Days - The MusicalAlexander S. Bermange, arr. Paul BatemanMatthew Gould


OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
Mansfield Park (World premiere tour)Jonathan DoveHeritage OperaChris GillMichael McCaffery
SavitriWandering ScholarThe Little Opera CompanyDaisy Evans
The Demon Lover
The Emperor of AtlantisViktor UllmannJohn MurtonMax Hoehn
The Turn of the ScrewBenjamin Britten
The Diary of One Who DisappearedLeos JanáčekThe Opera EnsembleSelina CadellGuy Burnett
AlcinaPeter FoggitJenny Miller and Polly Graham
The Boy, the Forest and the DesertAlexandre BarriereFlora Robertson
Prima la Musica /Der SchauspieldirektorRicardo GosalboJose Gandhia
The Francis Bacon OperaStephen CroweGenevieve Ellis


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

OperaComposerProduction CompanyConductor or Music DirectorDirectorDesigner
The Rape of LucretiaBenjamin BrittenThomas BluntMax KeySarah Bacon
Spilt MilkTimothy Burke (libretto by James Waterfield)
Trouble in TahitiLeonard BernsteinTimothy BurkeNina BrazierPolly Webb-Wilson
The Prodigal Son /The HomecomingBenjamin Britten /Felix MendelssohnElizabeth BurgessJoe AustinSimon Kenny
ViceJools Scott (libretto by Sue Curtis)
The RavenMatt RogersSinead O'NeillSarah Bacon
CrowMichael RoustonMark McInnes
Poison GardenLouis d'Heudieres (libretto by Daisy Evans)Waistcoat CompanyLouis d'HeudieresDaisy EvansDaisy Evans
The Diaries of Adam and EveDavid Josiah MooreBen Gwalchmai
How I WonderDominique Le GendreIrene Brown
The Stone HeartAlexander Campkin (libretto by Lewis Reynolds)
Cocteau in the UnderworldEd Hughes (libretto by Roger Morris)Heather Doole for Metta TheatreCarlos Del CuetoPoppy Burton-MorganWilliam Reynolds
Les Enfants TerriblesPhilip GlassAndrea FerranSarah 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



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