I’ve always loved the wittiness of the title of the Arcola’s opera festival, which returns for the 15th year with a baker’s dozen of operas, some new and some old. Look out for Baseless Fabric’s Carmen that reimagines Bizet’s story for today with supermarket checkout girl, Carmen, flirting with security guard, Don Jose. Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate returns after its success at Grimeborn in 2018, and Bartok’s fabulous Bluebeard’s Castle is given a production by Green Opera with an eye to exploring male fantasy and the muse-artist relationship. I love the sound too of Red Gray and Sarah Nicolls’ new opera, The Unravelling Fantasia of Miss H, inspired by the defiant embroidery of Mary Frances Heaton who was held in Wakefield Asylum in the 19th century. There is much more so check out the website.
When supermarket check-out girl Carmen brazenly flirts with the new security guard Don Jose, much to the confusion and embarrassment of his fiancée Micaela, things get even more complicated as Carmen’s ex-boyfriend turned TikTok celebrity Escamillo also shows up. Follow our characters’ entangled love stories in this bold contemporary re-imagining of the classic Carmen story for London life today. Baseless Fabric return to Grimeborn following 2019’s sell-out Die Fledermaus (★★★★ The Guardian, ★★★★ The Stage) and their recent Cosi Fan Tutte, which was an Off West End Award Finalist for Best Opera Production. With a re-imagined score for violin, accordion and bassoon by acclaimed young composer Leo Geyer of Bizet’s famous tunes and a colloquial contemporary English libretto by director and librettist Joanna Turner, this daring new production places Bizet’s characters directly on today’s high street.