Philip Venables
Photo: Harald Hoffman


4.48 Psychosis – German Premiere of the Chamber Opera by Philip Venables

Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden / Saxon State Opera Dresden, Germany

"Don't switch off my mind by attempting to straighten me out." (Sarah Kane) In modern society more and more people are suffering from psychological problems. Recent studies have found that as many as one in four young people suffer from depression, anxiety disorders or panic attacks; the figures for young students are particularly alarming. British playwright Sarah Kane, herself a victim of psychosis and severe depression, described her own suffering as a patient in her play 4.48 Psychosis in 1999. The openness and starkness of her description – monologues, dialogues with doctors and fellow patients through to the meticulous enumeration of precise medication details as well as lyrical passages – make Kane‘s play a shattering, but also illuminating document. 4.48 indicates the time she often woke up in the early morning to experience moments of great clarity. The author took her own life in February 1999. Her last play was premiered posthumously in London in the year 2000 and allows deep insight into the inner conflict, loneliness but also the hopes and desires of her protagonist. In 2016, also in London, the material was set to music as an opera by the young British composer Philip Venables and premiered as a work commissioned by the Royal Opera House. The work, which refers very specifically to Sarah Kane’s text, is a musical narrative in its own right – a haunting and impressive reflection of the original, produced with great skill and tonal ingenuity. The opera was nominated for one of the most important British theater accolades, the Olivier Award, and received the Philharmonic Society Prize for Large-Scale Composition. In December 2017 Philip Venables was presented the British Composer Award for 4.48 Psychosis. This special work of music theater will see its German premiere performed on stage in Dresden, translated by the Dresden playwright Durs Grünbein. On the basis of this translation, Philip Venables is now preparing a German version of his opera especially for the Semper Opera.

April 26 & 29, 2019
Semper Zwei, Semperoper Dresden, Germany

May 3, 4, 6, 8 & 10, 2019
Semper Zwei, Semperoper Dresden, Germany

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