New production: The Mad King
During these last months, we worked on the new production within the boundaries of the corona measures and The Mad King now is ready to show to our audience. Together with the New European Ensemble and Museum Speelklok we created an immersive and colorful theater experience, with music of Peter Maxwell Davies, Georg Frideric Handel and Brendan Faegre, which we can perform live in the theatres as soon as it's allowed.
About The Mad King
Surrounded by his wondrous bird collection, a powerful man in isolation fights his delusions. He cranks up his barrel organ and becomes inspired by the sound and color of remarkable mechanical instruments: all meant to stifle the cackling voices in his head. But then a strange guest flies in: 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.
Embedded in this production are the legendary “Eight Songs for a Mad King” by composer Peter Maxwell Davies, which have their roots in history. Maxwell Davies was inspired by 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, 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, these 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 Handel's operas and oratorios, also full of bird song and folk music and arranged for both conventional and mechanical instruments, fits beautifully 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 (2019). Baritones Charles Johnston (UK) and Wiebe Pier Cnossen (NL) alternate as the maniacal man - surrounded by six 'caged' musicians of the New European Ensemble. Composer and arranger Brendan Faegre designes the musical universe of this production, and the overall musical leadership is in the hands of OPERA2DAY's Hernán Schvartzman. Worth a special mention is the collaboration with Museum Speelklok - the specialist in the field of mechanical organs and musical instruments.