Eight Songs For A Mad King / Façade

  • Double-bill production
  • Directed by Ella Marchment
  • Eight Songs For A Mad King composed by Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Façade composed by William Walton
  • Helios Chamber Opera and Melos Sinfonia
  • Grimeborn Opera Festival, London; Rose Theatre, Kingston; Sound Ways New Music Festival, St Petersburg, Russia
  • 2014


Experience madness, mayhem, and mischief in an unusual operatic pairing that will take you on a journey into the heart of twentieth-century musical innovation. Set in the fictional Esapbury Hospital – where the physical and mental wounds suffered by shell-shocked World War One soldiers are treated by a team of medical staff – Façade takes us into a bizarre, yet often humorous, world in which the protagonists imaginatively disguise their wartime stresses through metaphor and self-conscious performance. Eight Songs For A Mad King explores the internal torture of an officer so traumatised by his front-line experiences that he has assumed a separate identity, that of the Mad King, George III. The two works examine the vacillating state of human psychology, while also exploring what it means to be truly mad.

Opera Now ★★★★★

A highly imaginative and affecting double bill. Brilliantly located in a hospital for recovering World War One soldiers…faultless in delivery and dramatic emotion.

Opera Now

Everything Theatre ★★★★★

The whole production is a vivid and forceful display of talent from the team under director Ella Marchment.

Everything Theatre

Planet Hugill ★★★★★

Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songs For A Mad King was frankly stunning. This was music theatre which was vividly alive.

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Ali Frias ★★★★★

I cannot express enough my appreciation of that performance. It had me smiling all the way through by the magic of it and moved to tears by the performance throughout. How is that possible? Magic.

Ali Frias