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The Mad King

Koninklijke SchouwburgKorte Voorhout 3, The Hague, South Holland, 2511CW, Netherlands
Dates/times in Amsterdam time zone
Friday 12 March 202120:15
Saturday 13 March 202119:00
Sunday 14 March 202115:00
VariousThe Mad King (Music by Peter Maxwell Davies, Georg Frideric Handel, Brendan Faegre)Libretto by Julian Randolph Stowe, based on the writings of George III of Great Britain
Stefano Simone PintorDirector
Herbert JanseSet Designer
Mirjam PaterCostume Designer
Uri RapaportLighting Designer
Hernán SchvartzmanDirector
Charles JohnstonBass-baritone
Wiebe-Pier CnossenBaritone
New European Ensemble
Emlyn StamDirector
Bodine SutoriusMime

In The Mad King, OPERA2DAY and the New European Ensemble treat the audience to an immersive and colourful theatre experience, in which a powerful man in isolation fights his delusions, a strange guest enters, astonishing sounds can be heard, and we can escape our seclusion for a while, corona proof - on the wings of art.

Surrounded by his wondrous bird collection, the man cranks up his barrel organ and becomes inspired by the sound and colour of remarkable mechanical instruments: all meant to stifle the cackling voices in his head. But then a strange guest flies in. It is a migratory bird from Asia that takes up residence in one of the cages, thus posing a threat to the magnificent collection of songbirds. The beginning of a free fall, which forces him to face his fears, beliefs and habits.

The legendary “Eight Songs for a Mad King” by composer Peter Maxwell Davies have their roots in history. The 'mad king' is George III of England, the monarch who, in addition to the American colonies, also lost his mind. He used the tunes from a mechanical organ to teach his collection of bullfinches to sing. In 1969, Peter Maxwell Davies converted these melodies into a range of music styles that form a poignant theatrical account of madness and insanity. These crazy and outlandish songs are the ultimate challenge for a baritone, who has to use his voice from frighteningly high to heart-sagging low, performed with extreme expressiveness.

In The Mad King by OPERA2DAY and the New European Ensemble, the eight songs are heard amidst the isolated man's fabulous fantasies. In these, the music of court composer Georg Frideric Handel plays a major role. The music from his operas and oratorios, also full of bird song and folk music, fits extremely wonderful into the universe of The Mad King. 

The Italian Stefano Simone Pintor directs the performance. He previously wrote the libretto for OPERA2DAY’s highly successful Vivaldi-Dangerous Liaisons. Baritones Charles Johnston and Wiebe Pier Cnossen alternate as the maniacal man - surrounded by six caged musicians from the New European Ensemble. The musical leadership of the production is in the hands of Hernán Schvartzman, the musical director of OPERA2DAY.  Worth a special mention is the collaboration with Museum Speelklok - the specialist in the field of mechanical organs and musical instruments.

© Henk Bleeker
© Henk Bleeker
March 2021
Evening performance
Matinee performance
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