Philip Venables 4.48 Psychosis


4.48 Psychosis, the first opera composed by Philip Venables and premièred in 2016 was written during a three-year residence at the Royal Opera House and his doctoral studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, providing him with the time needed for reflection and practical work as a musician so as to give concrete form to his vision for a new type of opera.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about an original work and trying to find a writer to collaborate with. In the end I realized that Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis had almost everything I wanted, and for both content and form.” The play 4.48 Psychosis by the British playwright who committed suicide at the age of 28 was published posthumously. It depicts the inside of the mind of the main character and her experience of depression, in particular extreme emotions of psychosis at the critical point in time at dawn, i.e. 4.48am, when the mind is clear and despair is at its deepest. The versatility of Kane’s text which knows no bounds, with characters never clearly defined, and even the unusual typesetting, all working on different levels, plus the freedom to interpret and perform the work offered an exciting challenge to the imagination of Philip Venables. The opera, written for six female singers and twelve instrumentalists, gives musical form to interior dialogues with their own violence, through expression in different voices, speaking and singing, or sometimes just marking a beat.