Tête à Tête/DCMS pilot for the return to indoor performances with a socially distanced audience is the first public performance of opera in a theatre since March

Tuesday, 04th August 2020

Tête à Tête is proud to have presented the first live indoor opera performance for a paying public since March.  Héloïse Werner performed some extracts of operas at the Cockpit Theatre on 26th July 2020. Working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), we were the only opera company presenting one of their pilot performances for the return to indoor performances and thus the reopening of theatres. It was also the inaugural event of Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival 2020.


Our wonderful team, in collaboration with The Cockpit, worked out how to translate guidance into practical action. With a socially-distanced audience, drinks delivered to peoples’ seats, and hand sanitiser aplenty, we were able to finally get a taste of live performance again.


The whole event had a great, friendly atmosphere with our audience of reunited friends and fans of opera.  We were delighted to see that the physical distance between us did not stop people having a good time. Héloïse gave an exhilarating and intimate performance of contemporary opera pieces, including extracts from The Other Side of the Sea, which she had composed and devised herself with text by Octavia Bright. You can see a recording of the full show here.


Our Artistic Director, Bill Bankes-Jones, thanked everyone involved in the event, saying  “it’s both a pleasure and a privilege for the opening performance of this year’s Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival also to be the first performance of opera in a theatre, reopening the sector, after the Coronavirus shutdown. We’re very grateful to DCMSPHEABO and The Sixteen as well as all the very hard working staff at the Cockpit and everyone from Tête à Tête for their huge efforts in making this happen, and to Héloïse for giving such a brilliant and longed-for  launch to our much-needed festival and celebration of new opera. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”


With 100% of the audience saying they felt comfortable at the event, and almost everyone saying they’d want to come back, one comment seems to sum up the whole evening:


“it was such a thrill to see live Opera again, despite the changed circumstances. There is no alternative to sharing a performance with an audience.”