George Benjamin, Martin Crimp

Picture a day like this

Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique
octoberoct 25 – 31

1h without intermission

In English, with French subtitles

Prices €16 to €110

Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique

Friday october 25


Sunday october 27


Monday october 28


Wednesday october 30


Thursday october 31


Musical direction George Benjamin. Direction, scenography, dramaturgy and lighting design Daniel Jeanneteau, Marie-Christine Soma. Costumes Marie La Rocca. Video Hicham Berrada. Assistant musical director Marc Hajjar. Assistant director Sérine Mahfoud. Lighting assistant Laurent Irsuti. Singing director Bretton Brown.

Marianne Crebassa – Woman 
Anna Prohaska – Zabelle
Beate Mordal – Lover 1 / Composer
Cameron Shahbazi – Lover 2 / Composer’s assistant
John Brancy – Artisan / collector
Matthieu Baquey, Lisa Grandmottet, Eulalie Rambaud – actors  
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France

World premiere on 5 July 2023 at the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume in Aix-en-Provence 
Co-commission and co-production Festival d'Aix-en-Provence; Royal Opera House - Covent Garden (London); Opéra national du Rhin; Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique; Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg; Oper Köln; Teatro di San Carlo
Presented with the agreement of Faber Music Ltd (London)

The Festival d'Automne à Paris is partnering the revival of this opera at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique.

Picture a day like this, the fourth opera by two master-craftsmen, one of words, the other of sound, Martin Crimp and George Benjamin, is a universal tale which is as unreal as it is full of emotions. The piece is a magical fable about human nature and self-discovery.

It begins with a terrible event, that of the death of the child. If, before nightfall, its nameless mother manages to convince a human being, who can say that he or she is happy, to give her, as proof, a button from their sleeve, a miracle will happen, and the child will come back to life. The inspiration for this piece comes from the well-known tale, The Happy Man's Shirt, but also the Alexander Romance, from the ancient Greek tradition, and the Buddhist story of Kisā Gotamī. The opera is a journey, in the manner of Alice in Wonderland, according to Martin Crimp, and moves forwards in sequences, in which each scene has its own musical laws within an interrupted form of continuity. Along her route, the mother meets a loving couple, a rather disturbing craftsman who, before retiring, made buttons, a female composer accompanied by her assistant, and a collector who is moved by the woman's grief. Each encounter, however, brings nothing but disillusionment. At the end of this quest, in a magnificent, calm garden, at the fringes of the material and the immaterial, as can so often be the case in George Benjamin's concise yet enchanting music, the mother meets Zabelle. The latter resembles her, and invites her to perceive things in a different way.

Interview with George Benjamin, Heiner Goebbels & Jérôme Combier