Formerly known as Almeida Opera, the annual festival has broadened its outlook in recent years to include a mixed programme of contemporary opera, music and theatre. This year marks the fourth collaboration between the Almeida and Tate Modern, in a project entitled Theatre of Possibilities. Mike Ashman will direct an evening of music and performance inspired by the Tate's recent Cy Twombly exhibition, and featuring mezzo soprano Sally Burgess (20-21 July 2008). Theatre of Possibilities also features the UK premiere of John Cage's latest ensemble work Fourteen.
Yannis Kyriakides and Daniel Danis' opera An Ocean of Rain will open the festival on 10 July 2008 (until 13 July). Directed by Cathie Boyd, it tells the story of three cosmopolitan women taking a trip to work in an orphanage in Haiti, where their good intentions are tested by the arrival of a girl on the run from the murder of a sex tourist.
Following on 16 July and exploring similarly dark themes is Matt Wilde’s production of Rapp’s Nocturne, which tells of a man’s quest for redemption after the accidental killing of his little sister. Rapp’s previous UK productions include Ghosts in the Cottonwoods, Gompers at the Arcola and Blackbird, seen at the Bush in 2001. After its European premiere at the Almeida, Nocturne will transfer to the Traverse Theatre as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Rounding off the Almeida’s summer programme is a week-long residency by the British African theatre company Tiata Fahodzi (28 July - 1 August). Entitled Tiata Delights, the week will showcase work by emerging and established playwrights all resident in the UK. Six new plays will receive staged readings by three directors, overseen by Femi Elufowoju jr, artistic director of Tiata Fahodzi. Included in the line-up is a new play by Bola Agbaje, who recently won an Olivier award for her debut play Gone Too Far, which premiered at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in 2007. Tiata Delights runs from 28 July to 1 August.
- by Theo Bosanquet