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Rough ideas

Robert Thicknesse applauds an initiative that provides a platform for new works-in-progress while testing the idea of what opera can and should be for today’s creators and audiences

If there’s one sector of the UK opera world that appears lively (‘thriving’ is not quite the right word in terms of either audience or money), it’s the contemporary short-form variety as pioneered 20 years ago by Bill Bankes-Jones’s Tête à Tête company at the Battersea Arts Centre. I remember many excellent evenings there, none better than the first tentative runthrough of what would become Jerry Springer: The Opera, with composer Richard Thomas handing out beers in exchange for bright ideas. Bankes-Jones’s company battles doggedly on, and this summer hosts its biggest festival yet at London’s Granary Square development in King’s Cross.

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About Opera Now

British soprano Sophie Bevan discusses her starring role in a new opera at ENO; exploring the hidden art of the répétiteur; traditional craftsmanship meets contemporary design at Oman’s Royal Opera House Muscat; and Cardiff prepares to crown the Singer of the World. Plus, our pick of this year’s top singing competitions around the world; English Touring Opera proves that learning about opera can be educational and fun; American baritone and movie star Nelson Eddy; Simon Callow’s Wagnerian triumph; and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s legendary recordings.