The Trial is an International Hit

When Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton’s The Trial, based on the iconic dystopian novel by Franz Kafka, first premiered at Music Theatre Wales in 2014, critics began raving about this dark comedy. Opera Theatre will be presenting the same production of The Trial in its 2017 season, in a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, and Theater Magdeburg.

Hear what British critics had to say about the world premiere of this new opera! 

The absurdist elements of Josef K’s predicament certainly aren’t underplayed. Michael McCarthy’s spare production, captures that strange, vaguely paranoiac world well, too... It’s altogether a successful, very watchable piece of music theatre.”
The Guardian (London)

With a trinity of big names — Kafka, Glass, Hampton — this opera could easily have promised

more than it delivered. Instead it exceeded expectations. The verdict? Unmissable.”
The Financial Times (London)


“Half a century ago, Kafka’s The Trial (written around 1920) still read like a brilliant, if paranoid, fantasy. Re-read it now, in the age of extraordinary rendition and mass surveillance, and what will strike you is its astonishing prescience, both in subject matter and form. And who better than Philip Glass, whose music mirrors the taking-a-line-for-a-walk intricacy of Kafka’s prose, to turn it into an opera? With a libretto by Christopher Hampton which stays remarkably faithful to the original text, this new work — in a co-production led by Music Theatre Wales, who are now touring it — has sprung perfectly-formed into life.”
The Independent

Turning this into an opera requires first of all an outstanding playwright, who can find a way to turn Kafka’s haunting prose into effective dialogue, and secondly a composer whose music conveys an atmosphere of paranoia, inexorable monotony and helplessness. Christopher Hampton and Philip Glass fit the bill perfectly... Michael McCarthy’s strong direction holds it all together impressively… One realises just how prescient Kafka was.”
The Daily Express

“A perfect match between composer and librettist... The performers’ singing and acting, directed by Michael McCarthy, humanises what happens in a way that serves Kafka’s concept almost more powerfully than his own original writing... This is a truly brilliant achievement all round.”
Opera Now

“Music Theatre Wales’s Joint Artistic Director Michael McCarthy has put together a spectacular creative team in creating this new chamber opera based on Franz Kafka’s chilling novel, The Trial… Philip Glass and his team have created a very theatrical take on a classic novel with characteristic minimalist music adding to the darkness of a fascinating evening.”
British Theatre Guide

“It’s a neat stylistic fit, and Glass does expand his musical language to find new, Weill-inspired Weimar colours in his orchestration. The effect is deliciously grotesque, heightened by Michael McCarthy’s stylized and stylish direction.”

“…the music with its occasional percussive intensity, and the staging with its strong and clear visual images, have drawn us in to this extraordinary story, leaving a lasting impression. The acausality of the proceedings leads to existential questions about life and free will, which emerge beautifully from this intriguing unity of words and music by Christopher Hampton and Philip Glass.”

“There are quirky jazzy waltzes and delightful gigues on celeste and xylophone. Modern music without too much fear, but enough intelligence and integrity to satisfy high standards.”
Opera Today

The Trial is haunting, surreal and yet all too real.”
Manchester Evening News

“…the spotlight of operatic creativity…a deliciously restrained, splendidly crafted production… Glass’s music captures the shifts between bravado and the sense of paranoia, bemusement and utter horror, sexual and emotional delight and repulsion, and the suffocation of isolation within an inescapable system.”
Theatre in Wales

“This is Christopher Hampton’s brilliant pocket-adaptation of one of the world’s most famous books…cogent, lucid, and…witty.”
Wales Arts Review