Alan Oke

Recent engagements include John Styx Orpheus in the Underworld for the English National Opera, Fatty Rise and Fall of the city of Mahagonny and David Lang’s Prisoner of the State at the Barbican with the BBC Symphonic Orchestra and in New York with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Further future engagements include returns to the English National Opera and a European tour of Prisoner of the State.


Following a successful career as a baritone Alan made his debut as a tenor in 1992. Since then his career has covered much of the tenor repertoire for companies include Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Scottish Opera; Opera North; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; English National Opera; Canadian Opera Company and The Metropolitan Opera as well as appearances at the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Brighton, Bregenz and Ravenna Festivals and the BBC Proms.

More recently he has established an enviable reputation in twentieth century and contemporary repertoire, including Chairman Mao Nixon in China for the BBC Proms and the Berlin Festival; Caliban The Tempest and Prince/Manservant/Marquis Lulu for the Metropolitan Opera, New York; Hiereus/the Translator The Minotaur and Old Man Marshall in Turnage’s Anna Nicole for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Schoolteacher The Cunning Little Vixen for Welsh National Opera. He sang his first Peter Grimes to great acclaim for the Aldeburgh Festival as part of their Britten centenary season and Captain Vere Billy Budd in Genoa and for Opera North to add to his already celebrated Aschenbach Death in Venice.


From The Green Room


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    BRITTEN Peter Grimes

    Label: Aldeburgh Music/Arthaus Musik

    Release Date: 25 Nov 13

    Conductor: Steuart Bedford

    Alan Oke
    Giselle Allen
    David Kempster
    Gaynor Keeble
    Alexandra Hutton
    Charmian Bedford
    Robert Murrary
    Henry Waddington
    Catherine Wyn-Rodgers
    Christopher Gillett
    Charles Rice

    Britten-Pears Orchestra
    Chorus of Opera North
    Chorus Of Guildhall School of Music and Drama

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    BRITTEN Peter Grimes

    Label: Aldeburgh Music

    Release Date: 25 Nov 13

    Conductor: Steuart Bedford

    Alan Oke
    Giselle Allen
    David Kempster
    Gaynor Keeble
    Alexandra Hutton
    Charmian Bedford
    Robert Murrary
    Henry Waddington
    Catherine Wyn-Rodgers
    Christopher Gillett
    Charles Rice

    Britten-Pears Orchestra
    Chorus of Opera North
    Chorus Of Guildhall School of Music and Drama

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    11 Jan 20 LANG The Prisoner of the State

    “[…] while the Machiavelli aria for the Governor gives Alan Oke the chance to remind us what a compelling stage presence he has.”

    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 12 January 2020



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    06 Oct 19 OFFENBACH Orpheus in the Underworld
    English National Opera

    “[…] Alan Oke was wonderfully down at heel, seedy and sleazy, yet not a little sad with a poignant account of his aria.”

    Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 7 October 2019

    “Down in hades, Alan Oke is wonderfully horrible as leery John Styx.”

    Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 6 October 2019


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    24 Sep 18 WAGNER Das Rheingold
    Royal Opera House Covent Garden

    “… and Alan Oke’s vivid Loge are equally striking.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 25 September 2018

    “…Alan Oke’s Loge, a brilliant new portrayal…”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 25 September 2018

    “Alan Oke’s impressive Loge…”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 25 September 2018

    “Alan Oke is an excellently wheedling Loge.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 25 September 2018

    “The production makes much of Loge’s machinations, and Oke, a seasoned character singer, puts in an excellent performance, nimble, but also darkly manipulative.”
    Gavin Dixon, The Arts Desk, 25 September 2018

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    05 Jul 18 SAWER The Skating Rink
    Garsington Opera

    “…“Why do we always hurt the ones we love?”, as the homeless Rookie (a magnificently rasping, deliberately gravelly Alan Oke) asks poignantly in the final scene.”
    Charlotte Valori, Bach Track, 6 July 2018

    “…Alan Oke’s tenor stands out in the role of Carmen’s lover, Rookie.”
    Sam Smith, Music OMH, 7 July 2018

    “…Oke created Rookie’s character using a breathy form of sprechstimme, which blossomed in his final solo in the coda which revealed the truth of the murder in thrilling fashion.”
    Robert Hugill, Opera Today, 6 July 2018

    “The cast is consistently strong, with standouts from Susan Bickley’s earthy Carmen, a former opera singer on her uppers, Alan Oke’s dysfunctional Rookie…”
    George Hall, The Stage, 6 July 2018

    “Alan Oke’s Rookie also provides brilliant vocal contrast in defining this drop-out character.”
    Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, 6 July 2018

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    01 Mar 18 STRAVINSKY The Rake's Progress
    Dutch National Opera

    “The cast, down to the smallest roles, shows no weakness. Hilary Summers as Mother Goose, David Pittsinger as Trulove, Alan Oke as the auctioner and Even Hughes as the keeper of the madhouse (also doubling at Nick’s twin shadow) all provide worthy support.”
    Nicolas Nguyen, Bach Track, 8 February 2018


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    08 Oct 17 JANACEK From the House of the Dead
    Welsh National Opera

    “…but as the murderers Skuratov and Shishkov Alan Oke and Simon Bailey as Skuratov and Shishkov both give gripping accounts…”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 9 October 2017

    “The vocal performances are all strong in this ensemble piece. Singing it in English adds to the immediacy of the confessions of Alan Oke…”
    Rebecca Franks, The Times, 10 October 2017

    “But every singer here pushes themselves to the utmost in portrayals of great force, notably Alan Oke’s Skuratov, Mark Le Brocq’s Luka Kuzmich and Simon Bailey’s Shishkov.”
    Rian Evans, The Guardian, 9 October 2017

    “Amongst the key tale-tellers there’s a powerful tenor-off between Alan Oke and Adrian Thompson, both fearful and eloquent in their anguish…”
    Mark Valencia, Whats On Stage, 10 October 2017

    “In Scene 2, Skuratov (Alan Oke) sang movingly of his lost love, Luisa.”
    Rohan Shotton, BachTrack, 10 October 2017

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    14 Sep 17 LANGER Figaro Gets a Divorce
    Grand Théâtre de Genève

    “Meanwhile, Alan Oke’s stage presence as the Major was phenomenal; you could tell he relished his role as the shady villain. His delivery was snarky and nasal, his melodic lines swooped around and played with, Sprechgesang-style. One moment in particular, when he blackmails the barber, singing a cheery little tango in the face of his open razor, had the whole audience laughing. Brought to life by his malleable and well-rounded tenor, his performance was a joy to experience.”
    Elodie Olson-Coons, Bach Track, 16 September 2017

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    05 Jul 17 STRAVINSKY The Rake's Progress
    Théâtre de l'Archevêché, Aix-en-Provence Festival

    “Sellem, le commissaire priseur, est interprété avec succès par le ténor Alan Oke.”
    Florence Lethurgez, Olyrix, 6 July 2017

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    24 Jun 17 BRITTEN Billy Budd
    Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh Festival

    “…Alan Oke’s anguished, magnificent Captain Vere…”
    Mark Valencia, Bach Track, 25 June 2017

    ” Oke has perfected the role of “Starry” Vere, the elegant, sensitive sea captain haunted by his part in Billy’s death.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 30 June 2017

    “The success of the evening was due in part to the nuanced performances of two soloists from the staged production: the dignified Captain Vere of Alan Oke and Roderick Williams’s eager, naive Billy Budd. Oke is an ideal Britten leading man, a tenor with sinewy strength that feeds into flawed characters such as Peter Grimes…”
    Amanda Holloway, Opera Magazine, July 2017

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    13 Apr 17 STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier
    Metropolitan Opera

    “As the gossip-mongers Valzacchi and Annina, Alan Oke and Helene Schneiderman were deliciously mischievous, a slimy pair who could have stepped out of a vaudeville act.”
    Eric C. Simpson, Classical Review, 16 April 2017

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    26 Feb 17 LANGER Figaro Gets a Divorce
    Teatr Wielki Poznan

    “Alan Oke gave the role a hyper-realistic portrayal, and the beauty of his tenor sound made him all the more ominous.”
    Aleksander Laskowski, Opera Magazine, July 2017

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    18 Oct 16 BRITTEN Billy Budd
    Opera North

    “Alan Oke’s Vere, though, is already a richly complex portrayal, which combines personal diffidence with unswerving authority, delivered in phrases that sometimes uncannily recall the inflection of Peter Pears, for whom the role was written. It’s never easy to construe Vere as sympathetic, but Oke almost manages it in his final, shuffling appearance in the epilogue.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 19 October 2016

    “…Oke’s expertly sung Vere…”
    George Hall, The Stage, 19th October 2016

    “Alan Oke is perfect of diction and demeanour, too, starting out as a wry, cultured observer of human nature, precise but never prissy, whose breakdown is shocking, both in his climactic soliloquy and in the slow crumpling of his face and body as he conducts Billy’s court martial.”
    David Nice, The Arts Desk, 19th October 2016

    “Alan Oke is superb as the ancient mariner – his wan severity reminiscent of Peter Pears …”
    Kate Kellaway, The Guardian, 23 October 2016

    “Alan Oke is superb as the ancient mariner…”
    Kate Kellaway, The Guardian, 23 October 2016

    “Alan Oke’s combined authority with wisdom and compassion as captain Vere creates a rich and intricate character.”
    Charlotte Broadbent, The Reviews Hub, Friday 11 November 2016

    “That awareness was there from the beginning in the performance of Alan Oke as tormented narrator Captain Vere, looking back on the ignominious episode that has blighted his navy career. Not only does Oke sing superbly throughout – the converted baritone’s high tenor notes pure and powerful – but he charts the journey of his character, old and young, with a wonderful actor’s skill. ”
    Keith Bruce, Herald Scotland, 2 December 2016

    “The principals could hardly have been better cast from among British ranks, and indeed all sang impressively… best of them was Alan Oke, whose diction as Vere was exemplary. He was the only one of the principals to excite empathy, wracked by vacillation in the prologue and epilogue. He was especially convincing at the trial, where private conscience and public duty found him contorted with remorse before he turned latter-day Pontius Pilate. His tenor remained liquid throughout.”
    Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine, December 2016

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    23 May 16 ENESCU Oedipe
    Royal Opera House

    “Distinguished figures like Alan Oke… come and go…”
    Mark Valencia, What’s On Stage, 25 May 2016

    “Tenor Alan Oke made a striking intervention as the Shepherd…”
    George Hall, Opera News, July 2016

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    20 Feb 16 LANGER Figaro Gets a Divorce
    Welsh National Opera

    “The most successful creation is a new character far from the original, a sinister manipulator of people called The Major, sinuously delineated in Langer’s music and brilliantly sung by Alan Oke.”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 22 February 2016

    “The cast is strong. Alan Oke gives the Major a truly psychopathic edge…”
    Rian Evans, The Guardian, 22 February 2016

    “Langer’s sinister spy chief may fail in his mission to destroy our cherished, dysfunctional family but, with Alan Oke’s bravura insouciance, he succeeded in stealing the show.”
    Steph Power, The Independent, 22 February 2016

    “Intervening strikingly in the action is the villainous figure of the blackmailing Major, played with memorable malice by Alan Oke…”
    George Hall, The Stage, 22 February 2016

    “These secrets and lies, together with the central issue of consanguinity, made them easy prey for the Major, and it was the cold psychopathic glee with which Alan Oke invested this role that drove the action. He was magnificent…”
    Rian Evans, Opera Magazine, April 2016

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    18 Feb 16 MOZART The Marriage of Figaro
    Welsh National Opera

    “The ensemble work was pretty slick…Alan Oke’s Basilio also got laughs.”
    Rian Evans, The Guardian, 19 February 2016

    ‘…Alan Oke is a sparklingly malign Basilio…’
    Stephen Walsh, The Arts Desk, 19 February 2016

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    05 Nov 15 BERG Lulu
    Metropolitan Opera

    “And tenor Alan Oke’s multi-role part – including the Prince in act one, and the Marquis in act three – was a revelation. (While projecting an attractive, house-filling sound in both parts, he was buffoonish in the former, and menacing in the latter.)”
    Seth Colter Walls/Jason Farago, The Guardian, 6 November 2015

    “Alan Oke was most successful…”
    Huffington Post, 18 November 2015

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    12 Aug 15 STRAVINSKY The Rake's Progress
    Edinburgh International Festival

    “… Alan Oke was deliciously flamboyant as Sellem, the auctioneer.”
    Simon Thompson, Seen and Heard, 16 August 2015

    “The various grotesques with which Auden and Kallman peopled their Hogarth-based scenario make for delicious cameos, and both Alan Oke, smarming and fussing for Scotland as the auctioneer Sellem…found an ideal mixture of absurdity and pathos.”
    Richard Bratby, The Spectator, 22 August 2015

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    12 Sep 14 TURNAGE Anna Nicole
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “It’s extremely well done…beautifully judged performances from Alan Oke as J Howard Marshall II, the 89-year old billionaire she married in 1994…”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 12 September 2014

    And the singing and acting of the entire troupe was excellent…Alan Oke (who also sang his role first time around)…convincing as the randy old Marshall…”
    Stephen Pettitt, Opera, November 2014

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    10 Apr 14 BRITTEN Peter Grimes
    Opéra de Lyon

    “In the title role, Alan Oke draws on his success in Tim Albery’s award-winning Grimes on the Beach at last year’s Aldeburgh Festival. His is a light-voiced Grimes, but, as in Aldeburgh, he rises harrowingly to the histrionic demands of the mad scene.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 20 April 2014

    “…it says much for Oke (hero of Aldeburgh’s award-winning Grimes on the Beach) that he gave such a gritty account of the title role – not so much traditional misfit as autistic loner. ”
    Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 19 April 2014

    “Oïda’s Grimes, Alan Oke – his Aschenbach in Death in Venice – built on his success in Tim Albery’s Grimes on the Beach, as a haunted, decidedly oddball outsider.”
    Hugh Canning, Opera, July 2014

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    21 Nov 13 GLASS Satyagraha
    English National Opera

    “…Alan Oke gives a magnificently calm performance, wrapping his dark and flexible tenor around Glass’s repetitive lines to create long musical paragraphs.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 21 November 2013

    “At the still heart of things once more, as at every performance here since 2007, Alan Oke’s Gandhi provides the serene yet searching tenor presence that makes this boldly improbable work so seriously engaging.”
    Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 21 November 2013

    “But for all the enchanting effects, the undoubted success of this welcome revival relies completely on tenor Alan Oke’s portrayal of Gandhi. He sings with such beauty and humility that although we can’t understand his words (there are no surtitles) he convinces us that we do, so total is his sincerity. We feel the terrible vulnerability of the frail man with a will of iron; his torments at the hands of grotesque oppressors hurt us too.”
    Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian, 24 November 2013

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    17 Oct 13 BRITTEN Death in Venice
    Opera North

    “A thing of simple beauty – though not without its eccentricities – it is dominated by a performance of great integrity from Alan Oke as Aschenbach, which is essential listening… We first encounter Oke’s Aschenbach standing by a grave, which we soon realise is his wife’s, but which will also eventually become his own. Watching and hearing this emotionally dessicated man begin to feel again, as his body relaxes and warmth begins to course through his voice, is immensely moving and ensures that our sympathies remain with him as desire and love rapidly turn to obsession.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 18 October 2013

    “This is an opera that depends, above all, on its two leading players. Here the lengthy, inward-looking role of the dried-up writer Gustav von Aschenbach, who seeks creative renewal in Venice yet finds instead moral and physical dissolution, is explored with considerable authority and imaginative sympathy by tenor Alan Oke. ”
    George Hall, The Stage, 24 October 2013

    …Alan Oke’s portrayal of Aschenbach is outstanding..
    Michael Tanner, The Spectator, 2nd November 2013

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    07 Jun 13 BRITTEN Peter Grimes
    Aldeburgh Festival

    “Instead, the focus was intimately on Grimes himself. A few years ago Alan Oke gave the festival a memorable portrayal of Gustav von Aschenbach in Britten’s last opera, Death in Venice, and his Peter Grimes was no less intense. As though peering into a pit of despair, Oke portrays a man with black thoughts deep in his heart, and the moments when he was taken to his vocal limits only added to the sense of a soul teetering on the edge.”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 9 June 2013

    “Some singers invest Grimes with a full-on aggression, but here Alan Oke gave him an arresting inwardness, the goal being less vocal beauty per se than a burning expressivity, and his two great recitatives – his hymn to the stars and his visions of escape from economic bondage – were glowingly illumined… The final scene, with Oke savagely pronouncing his own death-sentence, was haunting in the extreme.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 10 June 2013

    “…Alan Oke’s Grimes had a searing intensity…”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 18 June 2013

    “Alan Oke seems to inhabit whatever role he plays with total assurance and credibility and his portrayal of Grimes is unambiguous: this is not the wronged outsider, a misunderstood dreamer, but an unremarkable-looking man profoundly at odds with himself, capable of terrifyingly violent mood swings.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 18 June 2013

    “…Alan Oke’s enigmatic Grimes was framed in a halo of freezing mist, half-monster, half-man, his oilskin as black as the night. ”
    Anna Picard, The Independent, 22 June 2013

    “…marking the dramatic start of Peter Grimes on the beach at Aldeburgh, the most talked about event of the season, not least sartorially. (Hoodies are now de rigueur at the opera.) No one present will forget Alan Oke, a noble and poetic Grimes, standing high amid upturned fishing boats, an outsider against the elements, fighting real, gusty winds to be heard.

    The whole enterprise, written about exhaustively elsewhere, was a feat on the part of director Tim Albery, his technical crew and his fearless singers. Each deserves highest praise for a Peter Grimes like no other. While a chill nor’easterly, as Plomer might have put it, whipped around our ears, we too became part of the action.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 23 June 2013

    “Alan Oke, singing his first Grimes on ‘stage’, still managed to communicate plenty of interpretative and vocal nuance, playing the troubled fisherman as a difficult, abrasive character who was no less sympathetic for his roughness… Oke provided haunting images of determination and isolation as they stood atop the set, buffeted by the wind, to deliver their solos in the final act.”
    Hugo Shirley, Opera, August 2013

    “Alan Oke in the role is rugged, capped, inscrutable and sings beautifully. His ‘Now the Great Bear and Pleiades’, Britten’s sublime inspiration, is alone worth going to the film for.”
    Michael Tanner, The Spectator, 7 September 2013

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    24 Feb 13 JANACEK The Cunning Little Vixen
    Welsh National Opera

    ” Alan Oke’s School­master…moving in their human frailty…”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 3 March 2013

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    23 Feb 13 BERG Lulu
    Welsh National Opera

    “Two singers rise above the mess…Alan Oke’s mesmerising Prince/Manservant.”
    Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 11 February 2013

    “In a work all about symmetries, the multiple roles are brilliantly carried off by a cast including…Alan Oke…”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 20 February 2013

    “…with luxury support from…Alan Oke…”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 17 February 2013

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    24 Oct 12 ADES The Tempest
    The Metropolitan Opera

    “And among other standouts the tenor Alan Oke was wonderful as the shaggy-haired, monsterlike, spiteful Caliban, who was to have ruled the island but is kept in servitude by the magic of Prospero.”

    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 24 October 2012

    “Alan Oke conveyed Caliban’s pathos and madness in delicate balance.”

    Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, 24 October 2012

    “…Caliban, in particular, became a central and even sympathetic figure thanks to Alan Oke…”

    Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, 24 October 2012

    “…and British tenor Alan Oke lends gravity as the enslaved Caliban.”

    Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News, 24 October 2012

    “…Alan Oke sings Caliban with naturalness and sincerity…”

    Zachary Woolfe, New York Observer, 24 October 2012

    “Alan Oke’s pliant, melting tenor makes his Caliban sympathetic.”

    Ronni Reich, New Jersey Star Ledger, 25 October 2012

    “For the British singers, the production is a triumphant showcase: Alan Oke’s earthy Caliban…”

    Tom Service, The Guardian, 26 October 2012

    “The tenor Alan Oke, dressed like a hairy Goth who fell in a mud puddle, is menacing as Caliban.”

    Wilborn Hampton, The Huffington Post, 29 October 2012

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    29 Jun 12 MOZART Le nozze di Figaro
    Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    “Vintage cameos from Ann Murray, Andrew Shore and Alan Oke crown a well-mannered show that…captures some of its invigorating spirit.”

    Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 29 June 2012

    “The best performances come from…louche Basilio (Alan Oke), three feisty characters in search of a real drama to get their teeth into.”

    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 28 June 2012

    “…entertaining singing came from the comprimario roles… Alan Oke (in particularly mellifluous vein) as Don Basilio.”

    Mike Reynolds, Musical Criticism, 1 July 2012

    “Alan Oke’s perfectly pitched Don Basilio.”

    Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The Arts Desk, 30 June 2012

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    03 Jun 12 TIPPETT King Priam
    Brighton Festival

    “…the magnificent Alan Oke…”

    Anna Picard, The Independent, 3 June 2012

    “The playing was superb and the singing strength impressive: …Alan Oke’s Achilles perfectly high-strung…”

    Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 3 June 2012

    “But there was impassioned singing from Brindley Sherratt (Priam), Benjamin Hulett (Hermes)… and Alan Oke (Achilles) among others, and I came away sobered, shaken and elated by a masterpiece of aesthetic rigour and integrity.”

    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 30 May 2012

    “But Brindley Sherratt and Alan Oke were tremendous as Priam and Achilles, opponents brought together by the common experience of losing the person they love most in a war that neither can now stop.”

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 29 May 2012