Devoted & Disgruntled: How can we change opera for the better?

Produced by Improbable


10:30am – 5:00pm | Saturday 5 August 2017 and
10:30am – 6:00pm | Sunday 6 August 2017


King’s Cross Academy Primary School, 4 Wollstonecraft Street, London, N1C 4BT



This event ran over 2 days.


Facilitated by Phelim McDermott, this is Improbable’s third annual Devoted & Disgruntled Open Space event for everyone who makes, loves and lives Opera. Whatever your big idea, knotty problem, hot issue or burning question, bring it to this weekend where you set the agenda and everyone gets heard. Share expertise, drink coffee, make friends, change the world.


To find out more about what happens at Devoted & Disgruntled, you can take a look at our 2016 and 2015 events respectively.





1.     zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection



[uh nd, uh n]

1. also, at the same time:





1. displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish:


Dear devotee of opera,

I’m so pleased to be able to invite you to the third major  “Devoted & Disgruntled” open space centred around how we can change opera for the better.


Do you love opera? Does it make you want to scream with frustration as well as purr with delight?  This is your chance to do either, both and/or more.


This year, I’m particularly glad to see this happening in the midst of my own festival.  While our mighty organisations are working through programmes devised two, three or more years ago, I’ve been delighted this year to find myself presiding over a programme of works absolutely responding to very pressing matters in the news.  And nothing will be more responsive than these two days because you will be responding in the moment to work on what is important to you right there and then.

Mighty organisations, resilient tiny ones, singers, audience members, managers, superfans, instrumentalists, choristers, casting directors, conductors, stage directors, technicians, production teams and indeed anyone who cares enough to turn up, you are all welcome for these two days.


I very much hope to see you there.

Best wishes,



Bill Bankes Jones

Artistic Director of Tête à Tête | Chairman of OMTF


  • – – –

At a time when uncertainty and isolationism are pervasive things in our world, it seems to me that Opera finds itself in a unique position. It is that singular combination of power and vulnerability. It is an incredibly useful model of collaboration which nurtures hope and spirit in inspiring ways.


However we don’t always make it, produce it or collaborate as well as we could. Making that happen better is at the heart of the Devoted and Disgruntled mission.  Improbable have been holding Open space events for more than ten years. Over that time, thousands of people have joined us to set their own agenda and work on what is genuinely  important to them.  We are nurturing better conversations, better collaborations, and better practice.

We hold these events because the culture we’re in can often make us feel powerless, or that big institutions hold all the cards. I know that in opera, small can feel insignificant or undervalued, but in Open Space you can make big changes even when you’re working alone.  Whether you’ve got grand designs or small questions, these are all given equal weight to work on.

Holding this D&D as part of the tete a tete festival opens up a new opportunity we must all seize. It is a chance for EVERYONE who cares passionately about opera to come together on neutral territory. It is a chance for those who work in opera to envision and do something about the future of their own art form. If you’re part of a larger organisation this is a time to hear from voices you do not normally hear from. If you are a newcomer, come include yourself in the conversations you might feel you’re excluded from.

This will be our third Opera Devoted and Disgruntled in just three years. During this time MANY important conversations have happened, Some of them are unfinished and there are many new ones still waiting to be had. Come and help define the future of your art form by letting us know your dreams, questions and plans at this most influential of events.


Phelim McDermott

co-Artistic Director, Improbable

Further cast, crew and production info will be announced in July.