Pop Up Operas 2019: With Your Help

Friday, 31st May 2019

With your help, we can do what we do best: work with exceptional artists to make new opera.


This year we will be commissioning and producing three new short operas for Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival 2019; supporting three brilliant young composers to create brand new work.


For more than 10 years our Pop-Up Operas – written for 2 singers and 2 instrumentalists –  have been delighting audiences on streets, in cafés, in theatre foyers and even on trains.


We are proud of our track record of spotting bright talent and giving them the invaluable opportunity to flex their operatic muscles, with brilliant results. Pop-Up composers from previous years say:


One of the best development opportunities of my career  Robert Fokkens (2010)


No better training for a young composer wishing to work in opera  Cheryl Frances-Hoad (2012)


I have no doubt that this opportunity paved the way to me eventually becoming a composer-in-residence at Scottish Opera Samuel Bordoli (2011)


A tough gig… Invaluable Orlando Gough (2015)


Help us to make this magic happen again in 2019.  Support three new works:


Music Anna Appleby & Words Ruth Mariner

“We Did Our Best” 

A love letter from two parents to their child, about how they didn’t love them enough to do anything about climate change.


Music Catherine Kontz  & Words Catherine Kontz and Emmylou Växby

Hand Clap 

Hand Clap will explore the choreographic and linguistic potential of children’s hand-clapping games in music and space, exploring a narrative around the eco environment.


Music Vahan Salorian & Words Dominic Kimberlin

Alien in the Street

An alien conspiracy theorist trying to sell her new invention on the streets- a pair of glasses that help you see the extra-terrestrial life that is walking amongst us- when she encounters a mysterious stranger in need of help



We have chosen these composers for the Tête à Tête Pop Up Operas 2019 because:


They will benefit from the artistic development opportunity that includes guidance from the Tête à Tête creative team, the chance to experiment with theatricality, a low risk environment, over 40 performances and genuine feedback from a broad public audience



we are confident they will deliver exceptional, explorative work.


Read on… to find out how you can support our Pop-Up Operas 2019.

Read on… to find out more about the composers.



What Your Support Will Achieve


Your support will enable us to:


£100 Dress for the opera; will cover the cost of a costume for one of the four performers.


In return, we will send you your own copy of the costume drawing for the dream you will have helped make a reality.


£250 Capture the opera; covers the costs of videoing and editing the Pop Up Operas. This is a vital promotional resource for our artists.


In return, you’ll receive a major supporters credit on the video.


£500 Adopt a singer: covers the cost of one of our brilliant Tête à Tête singers for one week.


In return, we will keep you in touch throughout their contract with us, make sure you get to see them both rehearse and perform, and of course give you the satisfaction of having helped bring new works into the world.


£750  Adopt the designer: covers the cost of our amazing designer.


In return, we will keep you in touch throughout their contract with us, make sure you get to meet them to show you their drawings and plans and send you your own copy of the costume drawings.


£1500 Adopt the composer & librettist: covers the cost of a writing team for one Pop Up Opera


In return, we will make sure that you are intimately involved in the production and performances, including welcoming you and your friends to a performance and send you a signed copy of the score.


£5000  Have your own opera: covers the cost of one entire Tête à Tête pop up opera


In return, we’d happily deliver your own private performance in your home, workplace or wherever you wish, and keep you intimately involved in the creation of the new work by inviting you to rehearsals, key meetings and keeping you informed every step of the way.


How to Donate


  • National Fundraising Scheme

Please visit www.tete-a-tete.org.uk/support which will take you directly to the NFS website.


  • Internet Banking

Use your online banking facility to make a payment direct to: Tête à Tête Productions Ltd |HSBC Twickenham

Account No 11552341 | Sort Code 40 44 39


  • Cheque or Charities Aid Foundation Voucher

Please send direct to Tête à Tête c/o 51 Alton Gardens, Twickenham, TW2 7PD



If you are a UK tax payer, you can make every £1 you give worth 25p more, just by telling us. This is because the government’s Gift Aid scheme allows us to reclaim tax on donations. This means that you can make an even bigger difference at no extra cost to you. When we get in touch to say thank you we will ask if we can treat your support as a Gift Aid eligible donation.


Who are the composers you will be supporting?


Anna Appleby is a Manchester-based composer and Rambert’s current Music Fellow. At the age of 24, her work has already been performed on BBC Radio 3, in the Holywell Music Room, RNCM Concert Hall, the Southbank Centre and the Sage Gateshead. Anna has been in residence with Streetwise Opera, Quay Voices, Brighter Sound and the Cohan Collective.

“The Pop-Up Opera platform with Tête-à-Tête festival is the ideal opportunity for me to develop my operatic writing in a context that is up-to-date, portable and accessible. I am keen to write music which speaks to contemporary audiences and which can be enjoyed in a variety of everyday places. To date, my operatic writing has been performed on more traditional stages, so this would be a fresh chance for me to revolutionise my approach. My long-term goal is to write full-length operas that attract new audiences, so this would be the perfect next step for my career.”


Catherine Kontz studied Composition at Goldsmiths College and as part of her PhD produced and directed a large-scale mime-opera. Recent works include Die Regenmacher for ensemble recherche (Glasgow) and the 75 minute opera Neige for Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg.


“Having appeared at most Tête-à-Tête festivals, my career as a composer has developed alongside this unique platform for new bold work. The opportunities it presents have been integral to the process of establishing my compositional style: ‘Neige’ originated in a ten-minute short premiered at the festival. As I will soon have the opportunity to research Japanese theatre in Tokyo, this commission will be the perfect occasion to realise a theatrical work as the result of this project.”


Vahan Salorian (b.1993) is a British-Lebanese composer and performer. His music has been broadcast by the BBC and includes commissions for the Northern Chamber Orchestra, Stage 84, as well as a new score for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Milton Court Theatre (dir. Patsy Rodenburg). He was the first ever resident composer of the Norwich Centre for Young Musicians. He composed the immersive nightclub opera, Boys of Paradise, collaborating with Tête à Tête for a revival run. He was commissioned by Opera Story to write a full length opera for spring 2018.

“I’m very excited about the prospect of writing a pop-up opera. A keen interest of mine has been bringing opera to a new audience by tackling contemporary issues and creating site specific work. This worked very well in my previous opera set in a gay nightclub.”


Why pop-ups are such an important opportunity for composers?


The full line-up of Pop Up composers (previously called Lite Bites):




Evangelia Rigaki

Laura Bowler

Mike Henry




Jordan Hunt

Joanna Lee

Joe Cutler

Dominique Le Gendre




Julian Grant

Dominique Le Gendre

Robert Fokkens

Stephen Crowe



Gary Carpenter

Samuel Bordoli

Charlotte Bray

Tom Floyd



Cheryl Frances-Hoad

Laurene Osborn

Ergo Phizmiz

Owen Bourne



Matt Rogers

Fleur de Bray

Will Handysides

John Webb



Helen Chadwick

Lucie Treacher

Na’ama Zisser

Errollyn Wallen



James Garner

Orlando Gough

Sophie Sparkes

Ayanna Witter-Johnson



What some of them say about their experience


Writing a pop-up opera was one of the most important opportunities of my career. It gave me the chance to write a bold and experimental piece with a renowned dramatist and a highly supportive team. The opportunities to hear the work performed in a variety of settings and acoustics and watch the public’s reaction up close was thrilling. The mentoring from the Tête à Tête team was invaluable. After graduating, it was the first company I felt were really taking me seriously as a professional composer. Tête à Tête has a long-term vision for helping composers and usually the pop-up composers are taken under the wing of the company and commissioned to write bigger works later. This sense of continuity is vital, yet rare for a young composer. I have no doubt that this opportunity paved the way to me eventually becoming a composer-in-residence at Scottish Opera.  Samuel Bordoli


I have really fond memories of doing the Pop Up and it led to me running two shows at the festival in subsequent years which in turn led to working on other commissions such as Snow (I know for a fact the producers of Snow found me by pouring over the Tête à Tête archive footage). Tom Floyd


I don’t think I’ve ever had a work which has reached so many people outside of the traditional concert hall setting… one of the best development opportunities of my career. It was a massively valuable, interesting, educational and enriching experience in every way, and I consider myself enormously fortunate to have been involved in it. Robert Fokkens


The pop-up opera scheme [is] a very powerful tool for change in the medium. Knowing in advance that the spaces and acoustics in which the pieces will be presented range from a shopping mall, to a field in a park, to a venue foyer, to under a railway bridge, one is forced to return to the basic question of opera: how do you tell a story powerfully, engagingly and directly through music, words and action without any of the (often expensive) extra paraphernalia, technologies and tricks which enrich, yes, but also sometimes encumber the genre. There is no better training for a young composer wishing to work in opera… combined with the chance to rehearse and occasionally adapt the work supported by excellent performers and director AND to hear and see the work repeatedly in a large range of settings provides all the development a composer needs. Cheryl Frances-Hoad


A Pop-Up opera is a tough gig, both acoustically and in terms of getting people’s attention. It is the librettist’s and composer’s responsibility to write a piece that works in the context, in other words, a piece of street theatre. It has to be robust and adaptable. What you get in a Pop-Up is a totally different event from a stage opera, a unique chance to engage in a different way with a series of different audiences. It’s invaluable. Orlando Gough


Out. Onto the street. Into unusual acoustics. Into untried spaces. Taking risks. Experimenting with form. Being serious. Having fun. Pushing beyond one’s own limits. Having the opportunity to compose music for these magnificently odd scenarios is one hell of a development opportunity – one of the extremely rare opportunities that we composers get to present our experiments with opera created  for unusual spaces. Dominique Le Gendre


My work owes so much to the opportunities that you gave me early on in my career. Earthly Desires was my first ‘pro’ commission, and a huge amount of my musical/theatrical development, as well as professional experience in rehearsal, came about as a result of our work on that piece… You learn on the fly, in rehearsal, with experienced, brilliant professionals. Laurence Osborn


Your mentoring during my Pop Up experience was invaluable. The support was on going and your belief incredible. Nobody else except you and the Tête à Tête team would have bothered to find and source a Zorb Ball for a 5 minutes piece of a composer fresh out of University. This act of faith was extremely appreciated and enpowering and encouraged me to think outside the box and keep dreaming about all things opera. The company performed the work several times, in different settings and this was invaluable experience. I will always treasure my collaboration with you and Tête à Tête. Evangelia Rigaki


To have the opportunity to create something which is so short form but which can still make sense and then to potentially hear it so many times is a really valuable experience.  I think there’s nothing like seeing a piece gradually become ‘lived-in’ by the performers when they do it so much. So a great discipline for a composer, a great opportunity and thoroughly enjoyable experience! John Webb


CONTACT: If you have any questions please do get in touch with  Anna Gregg, Tête à Tête’s Administrative Director, on info@tete-a-tete.org.uk