"How Philip Glass turns the circus into
opera that’s magical and profound"
An opera by Philip Glass
Libretto by David Henry Hwang & Tilde Björfors
Based on the poems by Robert Lax
Directed by Tilde Björfors
The spectacle of circus meets the splendour of opera in a striking new work by Philip Glass and Cirkus Cirkör.
An entirely new work meets an entirely new form. Circus Days and Nights is a circus opera in two acts, written by legendary composer Philip Glass and directed by Tilde Björfors – Cirkus Cirkör’s artistic director and one of the founders.
Its inspiration is Robert Lax’s masterwork Circus Days and Nights, a collection of poems that draws us into the poet’s fascination with acrobats and the circus lifestyle and takes us on the road with him when he “runs away” and joins a circus in 1940´s America. For Robert Lax, the circus becomes a metaphor for life itself – the cycle of life and death – and for human yearning and striving.
Circus Days and Nights premiered in May 2021 at Malmö Opera. The show is available for touring from 2023.
"It’s quite a spectacle, and one of a kind certainly"
"An almost sensational premiere of an opera by Philip Glass"
"Explicit and beautiful when Glass captures the circus life"
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
Philip Glass finds his circus
”I have had the rights to the poems for about ten years, but forgot to write the piece. But when I saw Tilde’s staging of “Satyagraha” it struck me: They could do it!”
says Philip Glass about Cirkus Cirkör and the collaboration.
Cirkus Cirkör, together with Swedish opera company Folkoperan did an unique take on Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha in 2016. The performance became a big success and performed in Stockholm. Gothenburg, Copenhagen and at BAM, Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York. At BAM Philip Glass attended the performance and joined the ensemble during the curtain call. This became the start of the collaboration between Cirkus Cirkör and Philip Glass.
Co-commissioner for tour:
New Vision Arts Festival, Hong Kong, China
World premiere 29th of May, 2021, Malmö Opera, Sweden
Circus Days and Nights is commissioned by Cirkus Cirkör and co-produced by Cirkus Cirkör and Malmö Opera.
Circus Days and Nights is presented by agreement with Dunvagen Music Publichers Inc., New York, USA
Music: Philip Glass
Libretto: David Henry Hwang & Tilde Björfors
Based on the poems of Robert Lax
Conductor: Minna Weurlander
Director & Concept: Tilde Björfors
Set & costume: Magdalena Åberg
Choreography: Simon Wiborn & Methinee Wongtrakoon
Light: Ellen Ruge & Robert Hvenström
Sound: Avgoustos Psillas
Rigging design: Saar Rombout
Young Robert Lax: Elin Rombo / Margaux de Valensart
Old Robert Lax: Jakob Högström / Anton Ljungqvist
Robert Lax as a child: Methinee Wongtrakoon
Mr Cristiani ringmaster: Simon Wiborn
Mrs Cristiani ringmaster: Karolina Blixt
Mogador eldest son Cristiani, aerial acrobat: Nikolas Pulka
Belmonte, second son, acrobat: Aaron Hakala
Paraito: youngest son, acrobat: Andreas De Ryck
Bruno, former circus star: Lars Johansson Brissman
Julia, sideshow artist: Susanna Stern
Enrico Rastelli, juggler: Peter Åberg
La Louisa, trapeze artist: Pierre Heault
Penelope, aerial acrobat: Bia Pantojo
The Orphan, a lion tamer: Methinee Wongtrakoon
Mathieu Grégoire, Saar Rombout
Minna Weurlander accordion
Viktor Nordliden cello
Inga Zeppezauer violin,
Blagoj Lamnjov clarinet,
Oscar Fransson trumpet
Martin Jönsson bass trombone
Sigvald Fersum percussion
The performance is an all-embracing piece of art created by everyone involved - on and behind the stage.