Britten Pears Arts announces its Autumn 2022 season

Britten Pears Arts announces its Autumn 2022 season 

Highlights include:

  • Two performances of Laura Bowler and Laura Lomas’ new opera The Blue Woman directed by Katie Mitchell
  • Festival of New presents three days of freshly devised music, all developed during Britten Pears Arts residencies at Snape Maltings
  • Britten Weekend features a new production of The Rape of Lucretia, a co-production with The Royal Opera House. The weekend also includes Britten’s complete song cycles for solo voice written in his lifetime
  • Clorinda Agonistes – Clorinda the Warrior, an inventive hybrid of opera, dance and video projections by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, presented in partnership with DanceEast 
  • Christmas celebrations at Snape Maltings include Alexandra Dariescu’s The Nutcracker and I, Irish folk singer Cara Dillon, Howard Blake’s The Snowman and Aldeburgh Voices and Suffolk Ensemble Strings in seasonal classics alongside bass Matthew Rose 
  • The Power of Stories exhibition, presented in partnership with Aspire Black Suffolk, features costumes from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, plus stories from our local community

This autumn sees Britten Pears Arts present a wide range of activity from the familiar to the less familiar including opera, world premieres, leading performers, and orchestras and ensembles alongside rising stars, talks and more.  

Festival of New: 8 – 11 September

  • The Blue Woman is a new opera by Laura Bowler and Laura Lomas, directed by Katie Mitchell which explores the psychological aftermath of sexual violence on women. It excavates the interior landscape of one woman, who has experienced a post-traumatic shattering of self as a consequence of being raped. It follows her as she searches a nameless city looking for what was taken. Wrapped around the central spine of the story are fragments of text, from other women of different ages, who have all been victims of sexual violence. Formally experimental, the structure of the opera mirrors the journey of fracture and reform that the Woman goes on. The Blue Woman provokes a conversation between how operas deal with violence against women and our modern day understanding of this reality. The Blue Woman is a co-production between the Royal Opera House and Britten Pears Arts (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 8 & 9 Sept, 7.30pm). 
  • One of Britten Pears Arts’ key commitments is to facilitate the development of new and innovative works, and the Festival of New is a whirlwind of freshly devised music and sound, exploring some of the most exciting work being made in the UK. Some projects are ready to take flight, while others are just beginning. All have been developed in Snape and Aldeburgh on residencies that take place all year round, giving artists the freedom to take risks, be ambitious and release their creative spirit. The festival takes place over three days and will feature ten performances including Laura Cannell’s immersive sound and light performance in the intimate setting of the Dovecote Studio; Nabihah Iqbal’s continues her exploration of musical traditions and cultures without boundaries and Chisato Minamimura explores the concept of ‘visual soundscapes’ from her unique perspective as a Deaf performance artist, choreographer and BSL art guide. Full details here. (9 – 11 September, various venues at Snape Maltings).

Britten Weekend: 29 – 30 October

  • Britten’s shattering chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia explores some of the darkest elements in the human psyche – and what happens when power and war give them free rein. In a world brutalised by conflict, one woman’s experience of horrific violence becomes the defining moment of an era. In this contemporary new staging, Oliver Mears directs, while Corinna Niemeyer conducts Aurora Orchestra and a cast drawn from the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme and the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Artists Programme. Throughout the autumn, Britten Pears Arts and The Royal Opera will be exploring aspects of this production and its wider context in a series of talks and presentations online. The Rape of Lucretia is a co-production between Britten Pears Arts and The Royal Opera House (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 29 & 30 Oct, 7.30pm; The Royal Opera House/Linbury Theatre, 7 performances from 13 – 22 November). 
  • Song was at the core of Britten’s musical life, both as a prolific writer and arranger of songs and as a performer alongside his partner Peter Pears. Three special concerts across the Britten Weekend explore all the Britten song cycles for solo voice written during his lifetime, spanning nearly 50 years of his musical output. These concerts form part of the year-long celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme. The three concerts feature a dazzling list of performers who are alumni including sopranos Anna Dennis and Sian Dicker;mezzo soprano Fleur Barron; tenors Benjamin HulettNicky Spence, and Robin Tritschler and baritones Peter Brathwaite and Marcus Farnsworth and all with pianist Malcom Martineau (Britten Studio, 29 Oct, 3pm; 30 Oct, 11am & 2pm). 

Clorinda Agonistes – Clorinda the Warrior 8 October

  • Choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s latest work Clorinda Agonistes – Clorinda the Warrior, is an inventive hybrid of opera, dance and video projections inspired by Monteverdi’s ground-breaking 1624 operatic cantata, Il Combattimento di Clorinda e Tancredi. Monteverdi’s score is paired with a new commission from celebrated Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom, both performed live and featuring tenor Ed Lyon, and conductor Robert Hollingworth.
  • In this visceral production, the fiery Saracen female warrior Clorinda battles the Crusader Tancredi in ancient Jerusalem, ferociously defiant in the face of danger. The second half catapults Clorinda into the 21st century as a woman still determined to tell her own story in her own way (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 8 Oct, 7.30pm). 

Christmas Celebrations: 15 – 20 December

  • The Nutcracker and I features Alexandra Dariescu in a ground-breaking multimedia performance for piano solo with dance and digital animation. A pianist, a ballerina, and a magical digital world on screen present Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker for the 21st century, using astonishing, state-of-the-art animation and effects to retell this seasonal classic as it has never been told before (Britten Studio, 15 & 16 Dec, 4.30pm & 16 Dec, 10.30am). 
  • Aldeburgh Voices, Britten Pears Arts’ resident non-professional chamber choir conducted by Dominic Ellis-Peckham performs with Suffolk Ensemble Strings and bass Matthew Rose. The concert includes readings, audience carols, and seasonal music from John Rutter, Rebecca McGlade, Cecilia McDowall, Eric Whitacre, Kerry Andrew and Eriks Essenvalds, plus Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 16 Dec, 7.30pm). 
  • Snape Maltings continues its tradition of a special screening of Howard Blake’s “The Snowman” – the perfect way for all the family to celebrate the festive season. With live orchestral music from the Suffolk Ensemble and singing by the children of Group A and Jubilee Opera Chorus, and the invitation to join in with a massed singalong carol (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 18 Dec, 1.30 & 4.30pm). 
  • Hailed as “one of the finest exponents of traditional Irish song anywhere in the world”, Cara Dillon and her band present an atmospheric exploration of wintry songs and festive carols (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 17 Dec, 7.30pm). 

The Power of Stories: October 2022 – January 2023

  • In partnership with Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, Britten Pears Arts hosts this special exhibition, named Temporary Exhibition of the Year at the Museum and Heritage Awards 2022, on the last leg of its tour of Suffolk. It combines iconic original costumes from Marvel Studio’s blockbuster film Black Panther – worn by characters T’challa, Shuri and Okoye – with historical museum objects (including from the Britten Pears Archive) and stories from our local Black community in an exploration of storytelling and identity.
  • This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Marvel Studios, Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, Colchester + Ipswich Museums, Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council, and the Association for Suffolk Museums. (Snape Maltings Concert Hall Foyer, Oct – Jan, 10am – 5pm (4pm on Sundays; note varied opening hours around Christmas and New Year). 

Other highlights

  • Link in My Bio centres an ethnically and socially diverse group of young people and what happens when their South London bus is hijacked by the supporters of an Alt-Right personality after he has been attacked by an unknown assailant/s. An interactive, choose-your-own-adventure opera experimenting with the musical genres of grime, drill and drum ‘n’ bass, the piece explores what it is to be a young person impacted by the continued global growth of neo-fascism and social media’s role in the widespread justification of racism and xenophobia. Link In My Bio was selected for the enoa’s inaugural Opera Creation Journey, supported by Britten Pears Arts and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg (Britten Studio, 12 Nov, 5pm).
  • Early Music Day is presented in partnership by The Early Music Shop on site at Snape Maltings and Britten Pears Arts, for recorder players and other early music enthusiasts. The day’s topic is “Making baroque music come alive” – the art of looking past the notes to find magic in the world of early music. It is led by Ipswich-born Francesca Clements, winner of awards including the Birmingham Conservatoire recorder prize and the Rollason Music Award, and a performer and teacher across Europe and the USA. The morning’s illustrated lecture is followed by an afternoon masterclass (Peter Pears Recital Room, 15 October). Early Music Day is completed by a concert by Aldeburgh Voices and Ensemble Hesperi celebrating the 350th anniversary of the birth of the Baroque master Heinrich Schütz at the atmospheric Orford Church.
  • The bass trombonist, African hand percussionist, and composer Hannabiell Saundersand her Midnight Blue Collective made waves during their recent Britten Pears Arts  residency – and now they bring their exhilarating fusion of Afro-Caribbean & Latin percussion, Jazz, Afro-beat, Funk, and Reggae. This organic blend of powerful and upbeat drums, brass, vocal chants, and mbira compositions produces an invigorating party atmosphere (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 6 Nov, 3pm). 
  • The Composition & Performance course for composers, instrumentalists and singers has been a flagship of the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme (BPYAP) for 30 years since its establishment by Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews in 1992. It gives participants a uniquely collaborative and in-depth experience of new music-creation and exploration of contemporary repertoire under the guidance of course directors Claire Booth, Colin Matthews and Mark-Anthony Turnage, with conductor Jonathan Berman. The week-long exploration of new music and workshops of new pieces culminates in a concert with an exciting programme featuring six brand new pieces, written and performed by BPYAP artists as “works in progress” ahead of their fully fledged return to the Aldeburgh Festival 2023 (Britten Studio, 27 Nov, 4pm). 

The Red House

  • Following the Heritage Open Day theme of ‘astounding inventions’, The Red House explores Britten’s inventiveness in music. The Archive will be open with a special display as well as activities and events throughout the week which includes a ‘science of sound’ session (10 September, suitable for 5-13yrs).

Red House RecitalsLibrary

  • Award-winning mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean, together with the Marsyas Trio, explore an era of pivotal social, political, and cultural change, featuring women composers who were trailblazing spirits during Britten’s lifetime. Inspired by the Red House ‘Britten and Women’ exhibition, this special recital includes repertoire for voice, flute, cello, and piano by Judith Weir and Anne Boyd. Alongside are short chamber works by Imogen Holst, who was an influential figure in Britten’s life, plus Thea Musgrave and Lili Boulanger. The programme also features Jewish-Dutch composer Rosy Wertheim, who fled religious persecution and, living in Paris from 1929-1935, was deeply influenced by Debussy and Ravel (23 Sept, 5 & 7pm). 
  • Collaborative Pianist Elli Welsh – this year’s Viola Tunnard Artist – is joined by singers from the BPYAP to present a recital programme featuring female composers (4 Nov, 5 & 7pm). 
  • Singers and Pianists from the BPYAP’s Composition and Performance course present an evening of 21st century and contemporary song which they curated with their tutor soprano Claire Booth (25 Nov, 7pm). 

Full listings online at

Tickets go on sale on Friday 5 August at 10am. 

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