The Sleeping Thousand

Artists: Adam Maor, Yonatan Levy

Series: ENOA, Residencies

Ideas explored: developing new work

"Since the war, I had difficulty being in the company of men. Sleeping was my natural state of being. It was thus that I lived fully and this fulfilment was as necessary to me as air is to breathing."
- Aharon Appelfeld: Le garçon qui voulait dormir, 2011

A thousand administrative prisoners are on a hunger strike. The Prime Minister decides to plunge them into a sleep which will distract international attention. And that is when the thousand sleepers cause the Israeli people insomnia. Consequently, it becomes urgent to send an emissary into the world of dreams…

Through their dreamlike parable, which oscillates between seriousness and lightness, the composer Adam Maor and the dramaturge Yonatan Levy, both Israelis, talk about a torn apart country, a multi-cultural society that its governing authorities no longer see as an organic whole, but rather as an irreconcilable mosaic.

Their multicoloured opera is in turns whimsical and dreamy, to be premiered at the Festival d’Aix before an international tour, is shot through with one certitude: “there is no homeland other than the space between one soul and another.”

The creation of this brilliant political opera has been made possible by the European Network of Opera Academies of which Snape Maltings is a member. The opera premiered at the Festival d’Aix-En-Provence in 2019 and toured to Luxembourg and Portugal.

ENOA Residency August 2017

In August 2017, Snape Maltings hosted Adam and Yonatan for a few weeks to give them time and space to put pen to paper for the first time and write the libretto. While staying at The Red House, this was a chance for them to explore Britten’s political repertoire (War Requiem) from his standpoint as a pacifist, see how the librettists for Billy Budd and Turn of the Screw transformed novels into libretti and be challenged by dramaturg Noam Brusilovksy, all away from the bustle of city life.

Read more about the writing of the opera on the ENOA website