Bold Tendencies with Polly Graham, and her recently formed company, Loud Crowd, are bringing a new opera programme to Peckham, beginning in 2018 with Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis and a special rehearsed reading of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Young Blood!, ahead of a major production of this work here in 2019. We believe opera can appeal to many more people than it currently does, but this requires an active shift in mindset and a new, energetic and ambitious approach to making work. The Opera Programme at Bold Tendencies is supported by Selfridges and Arts Council England.
The Emperor of Atlantis is an opera about the need for humans to respect death. The megalomaniac Emperor has declared a war that will only end when there are no survivors left. Death, an old tramp, is outraged that a mortal should try to steal his job and goes on strike. The war begins but panic sets in as no one can die. The Living Dead walk the earth. The Emperor's power weakens. He submits to the greater power of Death, and dies. Originally written in the concentration camp at Terezin in 1943 as a satire of the Nazi regime, this project proposes to re-read the piece as a prophecy for our time, presenting it within the context of current political debates about nuclear warfare, the migration crisis, climate change and the value of life in relation to power, always with a flavour of satire and clowning. The sound world of the opera is cartoonish and accessible, its collage style mixes jazz with chamber music and cabaret.
About Polly Graham, Artistic Director
Polly Graham trained at RADA, and with Teatr Pieśń Kosła and Le Théâtre du Soleil. As a freelance director she has worked at ENO, Glyndebourne Education, Buxton Festival, Grimeborn, RWCMD, Independent Opera, Teatro San Carlo, San Francisco Opera, Theater St Gallen, RADA, WNYO, WNO, Opera Sonic, Blackheath Halls Community Opera, the National Opera Studio, and the Fondazione Haydn in Italy. She was supported by the Genesis Foundation to work with David Pountney for two years at Welsh National Opera. Her work has been widely acknowledged: Kommilitonen! and Le Vin Herbé won Best Opera at the Welsh Theatre Awards in 2017 and 2018 respectively; Le Vin Herbé was nominated for the “Achievement in Opera” at the UK Theatre Awards, and she was a nominee in the “Best Newcomer” category at the 2017 International Opera Awards. In 2017 Polly founded Loud Crowd to deliver high-quality, innovative opera and music theatre work that reaches out to new audiences. Loud Crowd makes opera an art-form which expresses and responds to contemporary social, philosophical and political issues, contributing to public discourse and offering a cultural voice for our time.
About Bold Tendencies
The rooftop spaces at Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park are home to not-for-profit organisation Bold Tendencies which is unique in terms of the rich mix of what it does, and where and how it does it. For more than a decade Bold Tendencies has transformed its car park home with a programme of contemporary art, orchestral music (hosting the BBC Proms with The Multi-Story Orchestra in 2016 and 2017), opera and architectural projects including Frank’s Cafe and the Straw Auditorium designed by Practice Architecture, Simon Whybray’s pink staircase and Cooke Fawcett’s Peckham Observatory. Bold Tendencies animates its programme and the site for schools, families and the neighbourhood through standalone education and community initiatives that take culture and civic values seriously. With immersive public spaces and spectacular views across London, the project has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors so far and celebrates the free enjoyment of public space in the city. In the autumn of 2017 Southwark Council ended years of uncertainty, confirming Bold Tendencies’ future in the Car Park building with the offer of a new long-term lease.
The business was founded by American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909 and was widely regarded as the first and best example of a modern department store. Harry Gordon Selfridge ran the store himself until he retired in 1940. After several ownerships the company was de-merged from the Sears Group in 1998 and floated on the London Stock Exchange. In 2003 W. Galen Weston purchased Selfridges and under his ownership Selfridges has become an extraordinary global destination for fashion, luxury and retail theatre. In June 2010 Selfridges was named Best Department Store in the World for the first time by the IGDS (Intercontinental Group of Department Stores). The title, which Selfridges held until June 2012, is the industry's highest accolade. Selfridges won the title again in June 2012, and again in 2014 for an unprecedented three times consecutively. In May 2016, Selfridges won the inaugural award for World’s Best Sustainability Campaign at the IGDS world summit for its long-term commitment campaign, Buying Better Inspiring Change which it launched earlier in January. Selfridges has four stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester (Trafford Centre, Exchange Square) and our international website now delivers within the UK and to over 130 countries, trading in eight currencies. Selfridges today, continues Harry Gordon Selfridge's legacy - a shopping experience that promises to surprise, amaze and amuse its customers by delivering extraordinary customer experiences.