Coming soon Grimeborn Opera Festival’s Turandot with an all ESEA cast

All ESEA cast announced for Turandot for the first time in the UK 

Wednesday 23rd – Saturday 26th August 2023 

Grimeborn Opera Festival, Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL 

An all East and South East Asian (ESEA) cast has been announced for Turandot at Grimeborn Opera Festival this month. This marks the first time in the UK that a professional production of Puccini’s final opera, which is set in China and has its roots in Central and East Asian literature, has a full cast from the Asian diaspora. A majority ESEA creative team spearheads this radical reimagining of Turandot, which tackles the opera’s orientalist tropes head-on, and examines the Far East’s contemporary role as a tech giant in the global landscape.

The eponymous Turandot is played by Reiko Fukuda (Tokyo University of the Arts, Met Opera), opposite James Liu (BAME Fellow and Carmen, ENO; Candide, Blackheath Halls; Wake, Birmingham Opera) as Calaf. They are joined by Michael CT Lam (Das Rheingold, Esplanade Concert Hall; La bohème, Opera Hong Kong; L’elisir d’amore, Music Viva) as Timur; Heming Li (2022 International Concert Competition, winner; La traviata, Manchester City Opera; Faust, Arcadian Opera) as Liù; Siyu Shen (Yang Ou Sang, National Theatre of China; Don Giovanni, Trinity Laban Opera Scenes; Rigoletto, Blackheath Halls) as Feng; Aina Miyagi Magnell (Sir John in Love, Opera Holland Park; Il prigioniero, London Symphony Orchestra; Sibelius’ Melodramas, BBC Radio 3 In Concert) as Xiang; Salome Siu (finalist, Elizabeth Schumann Lieder Duo Competition; SongEasel Young Artist) as Ming; Jacob Bettinelli (Sir John in Love, Opera Holland Park; Le nozze di Figaro, Orquesta Sinfónica de Michoacán; Don Giovanni, State Opera Varna) as Mandarin; and Benjie del Rosario (Pagliacci, Hampstead Garden Opera; Porgy & Bess and The Excursions of Mr Brouček, Grange Park Opera) as Emperor.

Bettinelli and del Rosario make up the ensemble with Mandy Liu (soprano choral scholar, Old Royal Naval College Chapel Choir; Rigoletto, Trinity Laban Opera); Anna Vienna Ho (Macbeth, Opera in a Box; L’elisir d’amore, Musica Viva); Priscilla Fong (Young Artist, Buxton International Festival; Into The Woods and Falstaff, Royal Northern College of Music); and Andrew McClarty (student artist, Royal Northern College of Music). Thomas Ang (repetiteur, Royal Ballet and Opera Holland Park) accompanies the cast on piano.

The award-winning creative team consists of Olivier Award-nominated director and librettist Becca Marriott (La bohème and La traviata, King’s Head Theatre; Tosca, Grange Park Opera); Iskandar اسكندر Sharazuddin, an award-winning theatre-maker and movement director working across theatre and opera (Blackout Songs, Hampstead Theatre – 2023 Olivier Award nominee; Satyagraha and Così fan tutti, English National Opera; Suggestions of Love, King’s Head Theatre); Olivier Award-nominated musical director Panaretos Kyriatzidis (La bohème and Tosca, King’s Head Theatre; musical director, St Paul’s Opera); scenographer Ingrid Hu (Song From Far Away, HOME; In The Net, Jermyn Street Theatre; No Particular Order, Theatre 503); video designer Erin Guan (Pied Piper, Battersea Arts Centre; The Apology, Arcola Theatre; A Gig for Ghost, Soho Theatre); lighting designer Nao Nagai (Trouble in Mind, National Theatre; Scenes with Girls, Royal Court; Yellowman, Young Vic); and dramaturgy consultant Mingyu Lin (former Creative Associate, Headlong Theatre; Resident Artist, York Theatre Royal; A Play for Living in the Time of Extinction and Sovereign, York Theatre Royal).

This reimagining explores the toxicity of online obsession in the face of human tragedy, as Calaf is lured into a virtual, addictive world by the imperious digital fantasy princess Turandot. This new production, part of Grimeborn Opera Festival at the Arcola Theatre, challenges racist stereotypes that paint East Asian women as subservient, cruel or hyper-sexual, as well as the use of Yellowface in theatre and opera.

The production is performed in Italian and is a co-production between British East and Southeast Asian (BESEA)-led Ellandar Productions and The Opera Makers for Grimeborn Festival 2023.

Turandot – Wednesday 23rd – Friday 25th August 2023, 7.30pm
and Saturday 26th August 2023, 3pm and 7:30pm 

Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL 
Box Office £12-30 (CLICK HERE)

Director/Dramaturg – Becca Marriott
Director/Dramaturg – Iskandar اسكندر Sharazuddin
Musical Director – Panaretos Kyriatzidis
Scenography – Ingrid Hu 胡嘉倩
Video Design – Erin Guan 关绰莹
Lighting Design – Nao Nagai 長井懐央
Dramaturgy Consultant – Mingyu Lin 林铭宇

Cast :
Calaf – James Liu 廖立志
Turandot – Reiko Fukuda 福田玲子
Timur – Michael CT Lam 林俊廷
Liù – Heming Li
Feng – Siyu Shen 沈思宇
Xiang – Aina Miyagi Magnell 宮城 愛奈
Ming – Salome Siu 蕭仲君
Mandarin/Baritone Ensemble – Jacob Bettinelli 吳柏賢
Emperor/Tenor Ensemble – Benjie del Rosario
Soprano Ensemble – Mandy Liu 廖靜雯
Soprano Ensemble – Anna Vienna Ho 何雅鈉
Alto Ensemble – Priscilla Fong
Tenor Ensemble – Andrew McClarty
Piano – Thomas Ang

Running time 1 hour 35 minutes, no interval  / Age Guidance 12+
Content Warnings Some violent/sexual imagery
Social Media @TheOperaMakers @ArcolaTheatre  #TheOperaMakers #Grimeborn #GrimebornTurandot

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