New circus opera by Philip Glass

Published: 14 May 2021
Reporter: Vera Liber

Circus Days and Nights Credit: Karolina Henke
Philip Glass and Tilde Björfors Credit: Mats Bäcker

Based on the poetry of Robert Lax, Circus Days and Nights (streaming 29 May–13 June) is a new circus opera by composer Philip Glass and playwright David Henry Hwang in a collaboration between Swedish contemporary circus company Cirkus Cirkör and Malmö Opera, directed by Cirkus Cirkör co-founder and artistic director Tilde Björfors.

The show will be performed on Malmö Opera’s main stage with live music to a socially distanced live audience and streamed worldwide. The cast includes both opera singers and circus artists including Elin Rombo, Rufus Wainright’s favourite soprano and an international star.

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.”

Björfors added, “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.”