John Boyne’s masterpiece The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas still features regularly on international bestseller lists nearly two decades after its publication. Boyne’s story is a symbolic exploration of why the Holocaust is so traumatic: it demonstrates the relentlessly organised barbarity of which humanity is capable. The book has been adapted for cinema, theatre and ballet, though never for opera… until now. Noah Max, a rising star of contemporary classical music, has written an original opera score to bring this deeply poignant Holocaust fable to new audiences.
A very personal project for Max (his grandparents fled the Nazis in 1938), he sees the story as addressing anti-semitism and hopes that it will encourage discussion around this subject in schools. The journey of creating the opera was not without its difficulties, aside from Max’s personal and emotional investment in the subject matter, when Miramax, owner of the rights to the film of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas demanded from Max £1million to allow the opera to be performed. In the end the film company waived the fee, and the opera receives its world premiere at London’s Cockpit Theatre on 11 and 12 January 2023, performed by Echo Ensemble, conducted by Noah Max, and directed by Guido Martin-Brandi. There will be a Q&A session ahead of the performance.
The production has received funding from the RVW Trust and individual donors, and has also received support from the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).
23-year-old composer, conductor and painter Noah Max was awarded The Clements Prize in 2021. Over 40 of his works are published by United Music Publishing and his debut album Songs of Loneliness is available from Toccata Classics. The Echo Ensemble, which Noah founded in 2016, has given more than 60 world premieres and their broadcasts during Covid were enjoyed by thousands of families worldwide.
Praise for John Boyne’s multi-award winning novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
‘Intensely haunting and emotionally devastating, Boyne’s delicate fable takes a child’s eye view of twentieth century history and finds resonances lacking from many adult accounts‘ – Waterstones
‘Overtones that remain in the imagination… delivering its killer punch in the final pages’ – The Independent
Praise for music composed by Noah Max
‘Mercurial in character, detailed in scoring, echoes of Barber in its fragile slow movement’ – Arts Desk
‘Telling juxtapositions of calm, static episodes with passionate outbursts… an engaging new work for an exacting medium’ – Musical Opinion