Philip Venables

Marvellous reviews for French debut of 4.48 Psychosis

1 October 2019 - news

The French premiere of 4.48 Psychosis took place 18-22 September 2019 at the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg, in collaboration with the Musica Festival. The Royal Opera production was performed by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Sound Intermedia under the baton of Richard Baker, with Gweneth-Ann Rand, Robyn Allegra Parton, Susanna Hurrell, Samantha Price, Rachael Lloyd and Lucy Schaufer as the six cast.

Below are some excerpts of reviews (machine translated from original language):

“Paradoxically, while this theatre inspired by Artaud’s work could only be realised in total formal freedom, it is the straitjacket of the music, the composition, the conductor’s baton etc. that gives it one of its most convincing living incarnations. Philip Venables brilliantly succeeds in transforming opera into a “cruel art” and turns it into a Uranus that eats and digests, not its children, but its progenitor.” — Forum Opera

“The 24 scenes of the opera alternate between soft, sweet BritPop with simple chords whose emotional range is taken over by the voice, choral harmonies that would come straight out of an Oxfordian university choir, minimalist music with electro overtones, all of which is punctuated before the opera begins by pre-recorded lift music that becomes a leitmotif after each of the character’s crises.” — Olyrix

“What Venables elicits from the piece with only twelve musicians of the Strasbourg Opera Orchestra and the technical team for recordings and amplification in terms of orchestral refinement is a veritable anti-depressant: a primarily rhythmically determined music with two large drums positioned at the side that pick up the speech rhythm like Morse code. Suddenly, fairground music flashes up; saxophone squadrons, sounds like a transmitter failure, keyboard, bells, horror music, sacral aura. Supported by a stark light dramaturgy, the music follows a non-linear course between fear, longing for love and death and loneliness. The finale is like a farewell symphony in miniature with a fatal outcome. One by one, the protagonists leave the stage, the instrumentalists fall silent. What remains is a sigh.” — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Loneliness, depression, revolt, despair, it is a struggle that the text, the voices and the music engage in, a space of tension that is at once poignant and poetic, violent and political, that stirs the conscience and upsets all at once.— ResMusica

“The Covent Garden production now lands at the Opéra du Rhin, for the French premiere of this now internationally acclaimed opera. It certainly deserves it. For this is an opera like no other, with no real theatrical action, no concrete characters and no precise plot, which takes paths that are unusual in operatic art.” —

“An unforgettable operatic experience for adults, with engaging and committed teams on all fronts. The work deserves to be revived and popularised. A must-see!” — Classique News

“Philip Venables’ music translates the shift into an intimate space where depression becomes an intimate melody that accompanies this loss of self.” The Wanderer

“A devastating musical writing with varied influences faithfully takes up the composite dimension of the initial text: fragments of lines, intimate dialogues, cognitive tests, lists of medicines telescope. Twelve musicians conducted by Richard Baker transcribe the permanent agitation of an unquiet body and brain in a score that sometimes lets out a dull din, assumes a proximity to the skilfully controlled cacophony or stretches out a throbbing hum to translate the uncomfortable and disturbing character of the work.” — SceneWeb

› tags: 2019/20 Season / 4.48 Psychosis / Elayce Ismail / Festival Musica Strasbourg / Gweneth-Ann Rand / Lucy Schaufer / Opera & Music Theatre / Opera National du Rhin / Press / Rachael Lloyd / Richard Baker / Robyn Allegra Parton / Royal Opera House (ROH) / Samantha Price / Sound Intermedia / Susanna Hurrell / Ted Huffman /