7pm | Wednesday 10 August 2016 | Cubitt Square, Stable Street, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4AB

Waste Paper Opera Company


Tête à Tête is delighted to return to King’s Cross for the Cubitt Sessions, a free, outdoor live performance series featuring six days of brand new and improvised pop-up opera.


This opera came out of Klara and James’ love for Oscar Wilde, his style and wit, his manner of turning the grand statements of society into ridiculous paradoxes, and the way in which the humans in his stories are often two-dimensional, while animals and inanimate objects are fully developed characters. All these features lent themselves excellently to the aesthetic of Waste Paper Opera. The Remarkable Rocket was initially intended for a larger project; an opera in five acts entitled God’s Funeral & a Nightingale, in which the celestial Jester bets the world that he can tell the saddest story ever told, but loses all his powers as a storyteller when he falls in love with a nightingale. Klara and James realised that The Remarkable Rocket suited itself perfectly for a stand-alone piece, and thus rewrote it to be performed for Tête-à-Tête. The production developed very quickly around Waste Paper Opera’s core devising ensemble with the addition of some highly creative musicians from Birmingham’s jazz scene. The development of the story has turned it into a collage of fully scored – and devised opera, famous arias from opera history, and the use of the ensemble as chorus and soloists throughout. With specific intention of performing the opera at Cubitt Sessions, this opera has become a bawdy piece of street theatre, giving it a sense of spontaneity and vibrance.


Hosted by a dark story teller -the Jester- it tells the story of a rocket that is to be let off to celebrate the prince’s wedding. The remarkable rocket, a pompous, eccentric character, becomes a victim of his own, hypersensitive imagination when he cries so much that he eventually becomes too wet with tears to be let off. He is thrown into a ditch, where he encounters a radical frog, a bigoted duck, and an aggressive dragonfly.


Based in Birmingham, Waste Paper Opera Company is a devising ensemble which works with emerging talent, and established artists from all over the world, and is known for performing opera and music theatre in unusual locations such as swimming pools and coffee shops, seeking to reach an ever-wider audience with their works. For this year’s Cubitt Sessions, Waste Paper Opera Company is coming to London for the first time, breathing stage life into Oscar Wilde’s tale with their very own brand of storytelling: With influences from Jazz, doo-wop, vaudeville, and stand-up comedy, confetti, crisps, and a design inspired by Aubrey Beardsley and old Circus shows, this opera aims to bring out the beauty and absurdity of Oscar Wilde’s magical short story, while breaching the boundaries of what opera can be.




To view the full programme for King’s Cross’ Cubitt Sessions, visit: https://www.kingscross.co.uk/event/cubitt-sessions


Photos from our Cubitt Sessions are available below, © Claire Shovelton 2016.


The Remarkable Rocket

Writer, Director, Designer Klara Kofen

Writer, Director, Composer James Oldham

Musical Director, Viola Daniel Galbreath

Associate Producer Cameron Dodds

(in order of appearance)

Jester Dingle Yandell

King, Opera Singer, Squib, Dragonfly Meili Li

Prince,OperaSinger,The Remarkable Rocket Przemyslaw Baranek

Princess, Opera Singer, Catherine Wheel Janet Forbes

Ensemble Singer, Opera Singer, Roman Candle Suzie Purkis


Oboe Jenny Wood

Trombone Richard Foote

Accordion Paul Zaba

Viola Daniel Galbreath

Double Bass Benedict Muirhead

Trumpet Aaron Diaz

Drums Euan Palmer

Violin Sarah Farmer

Cello Sara Gale


Klara Kofen Klara was born into a Greek-Polish family in Germany, and recently completed her master’s in the European Enlightenment at Oxford University. Klara is a filmmaker, designer and writer, worked as stage- director with John Butt, designed costumes for The Oxford Playhouse, worked with Birmingham Opera Company, and recently had her work shown at King’s Place, London.

James Oldham James is the artistic director of Waste Paper Opera Company and is a UK based composer and director. James has written many operas and concert works that have been performed in the UK and Europe and has recently worked as Graham Vick’s assistant at Birmingham Opera Company and National Opera Studio.

Daniel Galbreath Daniel Galbreath is a Birmingham-based American conductor. Specialising in contemporary music, he founded and directs the new-music chamber choir Via Nova. He has conducted numerous ensembles in the region, most recently Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and is an active workshop leader and lecturer in conducting, contemporary vocal, music and devising.

Dingle Yandell Dingle studied at Guildhall with Brian Parsons, independently with Jessica Cash, and at National Opera Studio. For eight years he toured internationally with Voces8. He has performed as a soloist in Tokyo, with Opera North in Dijon, and composed and performed the bass-baritone role for Perryment’s The Lingerer, one of ENO’s shortlisted mini-operas.

Przemyslaw Baranek Przyemyslav was born in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and studied in Milan. Among others he worked with Giuseppe Verdi Symphonic Chorus of Milan, Teatro alla Scala, Théâtre du Capitole (Toulouse, France), Birmingham Opera Company, Grange Park Opera Festival. His roles includes: Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas), Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte).

Meili Li Meili is known for his “hugely attractive, unwavering, clean voice” (Bachtrack,Opera). Being the first Chinese Countertenor to have an international career, he has done more than twenty operatic roles with Royal Opera House, WNO, Birmingham Opera, Concertgebouw, Tête-à-Tête, LHF, Hungarian State Opera. He has studied at RAM and Guildhall, and is an Independent Opera fellowship holder.

Suzie Purkis Suzie won a scholarship and many prizes while at Birmingham Conservatoire. In 2011 she participated in the Opera Works course with English National Opera. Since graduating she has been employed by Diva Opera, Buxton Festival Opera, Kentish Opera and Birmingham Opera Company. Her premiere performance of Michael Wolters’opera The Voyage was broadcasted on BBC Radio 3.

Janet Forbes Janet studied at Chetham’s School of Music, and The Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, from which she graduated BA and MA courses in Early Music. Regular engagements include LGBT company Operesque and the U.S. early music ensemble Echoing Air. Recent operatic roles have included Gilda (Rigoletto, Matchbox Opera) and Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte, Secret Opera).


Jenny Wood Jenny is currently a student on the MMus Performance & Pedagogy course at Birmingham Conservatoire. She is a Help Musicians Postgraduate Award holder, and is supported by EMI, and the Beckett’s and Sargeant’s Education Foundation. Jenny is a learning assistant at BCMG, and co-director of Melody Music Birmingham. As a freelance musician, she regularly performs with Mason Dixon.

Aaron Diaz Aaron is a trumpet player, specialising in improvisation. He studied at Göteborg University. Aaron has played with modern folk ensemble The Fair Rain, and is a member of Young Pilgrims. He was also a member of a music & dance collective at the Göteborgs Operan Dans Kompani, and his music was featured at the Nordlys festival in Tromsø.

Richard Foote Richard is a Jazz trombonist and promoter currently residing in Birmingham. As well as being a busy sideman in many projects across the UK, his main project is Young Pilgrims, a nine-piece brass band that play music rooted in the New Orleans Marching Band tradition but also heavily incorporates influences from rock and Indie.

Sarah Farmer Sarah studied Fine Art Birmingham School of Art, and violin at Birmingham Conservatoire. She as an artist and musician, exhibiting and performing nationally and internationally. She has worked with the Mark Pringle Ensemble, Thallein Ensemble, as a soloist with the Wyre Forrest Symphony Orchestra, and performed at Manchester Jazz Festival.

Sara Gale Sara studied the cello in Birmingham for six years. While there she performed numerous premieres, appeared on BBC Radio 3’s “Hear and Now” and the opened the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival’s “Shorts” series with her quartet. Now in London, Sara is Head of Operations for the London Mozart Players.

Benedict Muirhead Ben graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire, where he studied Jazz double bass with Arnie Somogyi and Mark Hodgson. Ben has played at Mostly Jazz Funk and Soul, Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Molde Jazz Festival in Norway. He has recently released an album for his large ensemble group “Stepmother Jag”.

Paul Zaba After graduating from Oxford University, Paul began a composition master’s at Birmingham Conservatoire under the tutelage of Andrew Hamilton. His works have been performed in London, Porto and Amsterdam. As an accordionist, Paul regularly performs at art galleries, film festivals and contemporary music events. He is a member of Young Echo Collective.

Euan Palmer Euan graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2011. He was part of Lluis Mather’s large ensemble commission from Jazzlines, and performed a five day residency at Brighton Fringe Festival. Festival appearances included London Jazz Festival, Paris International Jazz Festival and Love Supreme with Young Pilgrims. Euan played at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, and Park Chinoise.