Circus Days and Nights World premiere opera by Philip Glass | Directed by Tilde Björfors

Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Tilde Björfors 
Livestreaming from 29th May – 13th June
Philip Glass Tilde Björfors; Photo: Mats Bäcker
In less than one week the world premiere of the new opera by Philip Glass – Circus Days and Nights – will take place, on the stage and livestreamed world wide. Everyone is invited to  this never before seen fusion of opera and contemporary circus with libretto by award-winning writer David Henry Hwang.
Bringing to life the poetry of Robert Lax, a new genre-defying circus opera by legendary contemporary composer Philip Glass will unite a team of world-class creatives in a collaboration between Swedish contemporary circus company Cirkus Cirkör and Malmö Opera. The world premiere includes a libretto from Tony award-winning writer and three-time Pulitzer finalist David Henry Hwang and direction from Cirkus Cirkör co-founder and artistic director Tilde Björfors. Faithful to Lax’s poetry and spiritual world view, Circus Days and Nights will take audiences on a spectacular adventure into the world of the circus and the performers who dedicate their lives to this art, capturing a day in their lives as a spiritual ceremony, one which honours the cycle of life and death. The show will be performed on Malmö Opera’s main stage with live music to an intimate socially distanced live audience and livestreamed worldwide.
Lax’s circus writings, which explore a fascination with the travelling circus in 1940s America, have long inspired composer Philip Glass as well as director Tilde Björfors, who is renowned for incorporating circus acts into traditional theatre. Along with co-librettist David Henry Hwang, this creative team will bring Lax’s poetry and transcendental vision to the stage, through an innovative and highly-accessible fusion of circus and opera. Meanwhile the cast includes both internationally renowned opera singers and circus artists, including Elin Rombo – Rufus Wainright’s favourite soprano, court-singer and an international star.
Philip Glass said, “I have had the rights to the poem for about ten years, but I couldn’t write the piece because I hadn’t found my circus. When I saw Tilde’s staging of Satyagraha it struck me: Here’s my circus”
Tilde Björfors said “In Robert Lax’s poem and vision of the circus as a metaphor for life, I discovered a soulmate and ever since, Circus Days and Nights has had a permanent place on my nightstand. In Philip Glass’s music, I heard the ultimate circus music, music that commingles with the circus disciplines. Having the opportunity to bring together these two sources of inspiration is dizzying and fills me with a sense of humility in the face of life’s breathtaking leaps of faith.”
David Henry Hwang said “I read the poems and I was really touched by their beauty, their simplicity in a sense, and yet their profundity. The way Lax envisions circus as an act of creation and the cycle of putting up a show and taking it down is the cycle of life itself.”
Soprano Elin Rombo said, “It’s such an exhilarating feeling, reminiscent of going to the circus as a child and hoping that the circus director would choose me as a volunteer. Years later, my turn has finally come as Tilde Björfors has invited me, Elin, into the circus ring. Philip Glass’s suggestive music echoes my heartbeats in a way that few modern composers are able to do today. It is a great honour to premiere one of his operas.”
Founded in 1996 with the mission to stop dreaming big and living small, Cirkus Cirkör is now one of the most important contemporary circus companies in Europe. Cirkus Cirkör has toured all continents except Anartica and met audiences of all ages and inspired them with groundbreaking performing arts and challenged the idea of what is possible through performances, pedagogy and movement. Their mission is to change society through the art of contemporary circus. Performances in the US include Satyagraha at Brooklyn Academy of Music and Limits at the Kennedy Center, among others.


Circus Days and Nights; Photo: Karolina Henke
Philip Glass has composed more than twenty five operas, large and small; twelve symphonies; three piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films and string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. The operas – Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten, and The Voyage, among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.
David Henry Hwang’s stage works includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Kung Fu, The Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2020 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Price. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honoured with two Grammy awards, co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with late pop icon Prince, and has worked since 2015 as Writer/ Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center, as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards.
Tilde Björfors is the founder and Artistic Director of the Swedish company Cirkus Cirkör. Björfors has over 20 years of experience directing cross border stage performances in opera, theatre, circus, movies and exhibitions. Björfors has directed a majority of Cirkus Cirkör’s large scale productions and her work has been presented on stages and theatres all over the world. She has been awarded with numerus of prestigious awards for her artistic achievements, among others: The Swedish H.M. The King´s Medal of the 8th dimension with blue ribbon and most recently the Premio Europa per il Teatro Prize New Theatrical Realities.
An opera by Philip Glass                               
Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Tilde Björfors
Based on the poems by Robert Lax
Directed and conceived by Tilde Björfors
Set and costume design by Magdalena Åberg                         
Sound Design by Avgoustos Psillas
Lighting Design by Ellen Ruge and Robert Hvenström
Conducted by Minna Weurlander
Running Time: Approx. 2hrs 30 mins
Circus artists
Aaron Hakala, Andreas De Ryck, Beatriz Pantojo, Methinee Wongtrakoon, Nikolas Pulka, Peter Åberg, Simon Wiborn
Opera Soloists
Elin Rombo, Margaux de Valensart, Jakob Högström, Anton Ljungqvist
Opera Ensemble
Karolina Blixt, Lars Johansson Brissman, Pierre Heault, Susanna Stern
Minna Weurlander (concertaccordion), Viktor Nordliden (cello), Inga Zeppezauer (violin), Blagoj Lamnjov (clarinet), Oscar Fransson (trumpet), Martin Jönsson (bass trombone), Sigvald Fersum (percussion)


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