North London's Cultural Guide

Hot With Excess: an unmissable season of contemporary artists’ opera

The Zabludowicz Collection hosts its first ever series of live theatrical performances and more

Most art-loving readers will know that the exhibitions at the Zabludowicz are pretty cutting-edge, but this March the gallery is instigating something of a first in its 12-year history: an events programme without an exhibition. And yep, as the title clearly says, it’s all about opera – reinvented for 2020, naturally.

Entitled Hot With Excess, this special two-week season of live shows explores what the organisers are calling “the collision of contemporary art and opera”.

So you can expect all manner of real-time performances, screenings and discussions on how today’s artists are commandeering what some consider a hoary 400-year-old tradition to propose “new hybrid forms that resist easy definition”.

But workmanlike this is not. Using the Zabludowicz Collection’s 19th century architecture – it was formerly a Methodist chapel, lest we forget – the idea is that the performances are free from the formality of a traditional opera house. So in short, anything goes.


It’s basically all about pushing boundaries, asking how far we can rethink opera and what its traditionally emotionally intense narratives actually mean. By re-framing its component parts – voice, music, libretto, staging and costumes – the artists and performers are able to examine how the genre itself can be reconfigured. Far from rehashing an inaccessible art form, the aim is to turn its structure inside out.

As some of you will vouch for, once you’re freed from convention, you can do pretty much anything. And so the dozen or so artists here will be embracing opera as the original “impure” form, a parasitic mix of music, dance and theatre. Meanwhile, the audience can bathe in immersive shows that are multi-layered, celebratory even.

Lending itself perfectly to a spot of opera. Photo: PR

Hot with Excess: A Season of Contemporary Artists’ Opera launches its run with a newly commissioned opera by LA-based artist Trulee Hall (see our main pic, above), and then includes the following highlights: a 24-hr film work with live augmentations by Benjamin Orlow; a new site-specific staging by Sam Belinfante; a fully realised operatic performance of Marijke de Roover’s Live, Laugh, Limerence; and screenings from Beatrice Gibson and Alexandre Singh, whose ambitious three-hour, three-act play The Humans, modelled on comedies by Aristophanes, is stuffed with bawdy satire. Oo-er.

It all culminates in an unmissable restaging of Black Rage, the UK-debut of Berlin-based American artist Richard Kennedy.

Chuck in a lively panel discussion, in partnership with Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation (CAVE) and, ultimately, the short run explores not only the personal and political, or the intimate and global, but simply what it means to be human.

After all, opera’s paradoxical nature – a relic that remains vital, a dead form that continues to thrive – makes it an appropriate art form for the difficult world we live in. It asks us to confront our fears and desires, and explore who we are, or might be.


Alexandre Singh, The Humans. Image: PR

Thursday 12 March, 7pm
Performance: Trulee Hall, Tongues Duel the Corn Whores, an Opera
(£12/£10 conc. seated and £10/£8 conc. standing tickets)

Friday 13 – Saturday 14 March, 6pm
24hr Screening: Benjamin Orlow, Horses and Ants: An Opera in Eight Acts with live performances
(£8/£6 conc.)

Sunday 15 March, 3pm
Screening: Alexandre Singh, The Humans
(£5/£3 conc.)

Thursday 19 March, 7pm
Performance: Sam Belinfante, A convenient place for our rehearsal.
(£8/£6 conc.)

Saturday 21 March, 7pm
Performance: Marijke De Roover, Live, Laugh, Limerence
(£12/£10 conc.)

Sunday 22 March, 3pm
Screening: Beatrice Gibson ’if the route’: the great learning of london [a taxi opera] with an introduction by the artist
(£5/£3 conc.)

Thursday 26 March, 7pm
Talk: Panel discussion with Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation (CAVE)

Friday 27 March, 7pm
Performance: Richard Kennedy, Black Rage
(£12/£10 conc.)

Zabludowicz is at 176 Prince Of Wales Road NW5, open Thurs-Sunday 12-6pm. To buy tickets and for more info head here

Main image: Trulee Hall, Tongues Duel the Corn Whores, an Opera performance, sketch courtesy of the artist

This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with the curators at Zabludowicz Collection. If you would like a similar post for a relevant forthcoming new opening, event or product, please email us for more details: 

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