An introduction to Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival 2022, from our Artistic Director Bill Bankes-Jones:


I’m so happy to be writing from North Shields, where I am working on the culmination of our own workshops in 2019 for the community production, Home, led by our Music Director Timothy Burke, while having also just completed the run and tour of The Firework-Maker’s Daughter in association with The Minack Theatre and at Prideaux Place, both in our new home base of Cornwall. The pandemic and financial pressures forced us out of making our own work – the beating heart of Tête à Tête – for three years. It feels so good to lead from the factory floor once again, alongside all the artists we host.


As I write, the global outlook in the short, medium and maybe long terms is looking very grim indeed. Against a background of global politico-economic mayhem, distracting our leaders, as usual, from the ultimate challenge looming over mankind — climate change – it’s really inspiring to see the resilience and determination of the many artists that make up our festival. While the future landscape looks ever worse, the dreams and commitment of our artists continue to force green shoots of new life up through the cracks in the post-apocalyptic landscape. It’s astounding.


As we at Tête à Tête continued to host work, it’s striking how the festival becomes much more outward looking, welcoming the majority of artists from outside London, many from abroad, with, for opera, an exceptionally wide range of artists. The tendency continues in 2022, fueling the cultural melting pot our beloved art form of opera so badly needs.


Our artists’ imaginations have, as ever, run riot, taking us from the very beginnings of civilisation right through to the present day and beyond. In our own small way, by investing what meagre resources we have in people, we also show by example a more environmentally sustainable pathway for the arts, where our raw material is our collective imagination rather than quantities of stuff and huge infrastructure.


This nevertheless comes at some cost, and we owe a huge debt of thanks to our principal funder, Arts Council England, for acknowledging and helping us foster the visions of so many, our many other funders both individual and institutional who help make this all possible, our host partners The Cockpit, King’s Cross, Anspach and Hobday, and Kings Place, and the many cherished human beings who give so much to make this all happen.


Over the next few years, we’ll need to cling onto our dreams more than ever. And we’ll every one of us need, more than ever, to be taken out of ourselves, as only opera can. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to play our part in keeping the flame burning. I fervently hope you leave us with some indelible memories to cherish.


Bill Bankes-Jones

Artistic Director, Tête à Tête

8th July 2022