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Wednesday 21 August 2019

The Mother

A new opera based on avant-garde Polish play Matka

Music Laurence Osborn
Words Theo Merz
Director Frederic Wake-Walker

Leon is an egotistic young man who dreams of changing the world, but he’s still being supported by his mother. She pours all her vitality into providing for him, allowing him to mercilessly leech off her. As the realities of the world begin to corrode Leon’s dreams, his relationships start to falter and he drags those around him into a hedonistic binge ultimately leading to his mother dying of a cocaine overdose. Shattered, somewhere outside time and space, Leon then tries to come to terms with his mother’s death. 

The Mother is a wild and impassioned work based on the absurdist play by the influential Polish writer and artist Witkacy (Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz). It is both a brutal and honest examination of the complexities of mother-child relationships and a searing attack on what Witkacy saw as the automated march of the contemporary, capitalist world towards bland uniformity.

Beginning much like an Ibsen or Chekhov play, The Mother slowly starts to unravel, plunging into an anarchic and surrealist world. It shatters the operatic form, having an existential crisis about what it is. The music is taut and intense, with bizarre tunes, folk influences and pop references. 

Indebted to Eastern European theatre, The Mother is bitingly satirical and an explosive response to the traditions of opera. 

7 singers (S, M, A, Ct, T, T, B), 6 instrumentalists (fl(=picc), cl(=bcl), tbn, pno, vla, vc) 

The Mother
is available for touring in 2017-18

Produced by Mahogany Opera Group 

Production Supporters
Tony Mackintosh & Criona Palmer, Britten–Pears Foundation, Cockayne, Institute of Music & Dance, Poland, and Polish Cultural Institute


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A new opera based on Polish avant-garde play Matka
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