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Philip Glass

Publisher: Chester Music

In the Penal Colony (2000)
commissioned by A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) in Seattle, Washington
Work Notes
Libretto (English) by Rudolph Wurlitzer based on the original stroy by Franz Kafka
Text Writer
Rudolph Wurlitzer
Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
1 Hour 20 Minutes
Tenor, Baritone, 2 Actors
Alternate Orchestration
Programme Note
Philip Glass In the Penal Colony (2000)
Commander of the colony - baritone, alt. bass
Visitor - tenor
Prisoner - speaking
Guard - speaking

Kafka is one of the seminal minds of modernists writing and has proven to be a steadily appealing author for modern audiences. "In the Penal Colony," which was commissioned by A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle and premiered September 31, 2000 is based on Kafka’s short story of the same title. The story describes an execution planned for one of the prisoners of the "colony" for which and up until then, an execution machine has been routinely used. The material itself is allegorical, and though at first the story appears to address the question of capital punishment, in fact Kafka uses it as a platform to explore, extensively and poetically, issues of humanism, idealism, and transfiguration. The two protagonists - the commander of the colony and the visitor – are written for a baritone and a tenor or bass and tenor respectively. In addition, there are 2 speaking roles- a prisoner and a guard. A string ensemble accompanies the performers.

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...the sense of strangeness and the bizarre is very attractive.
Ivan Hewett, Telegraph,13/09/2010
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