I’d never come across Brian Howard’s opera Metamorphosisbefore I was asked to direct it. I know the Kafka story very well and I was very much aware of Steven Berkoff’s play adaptation, but I didn’t know that he had written the libretto for the opera. It was a complete surprise for me that it existed.
When I was first given the score it looked impenetrable, but thankfully there’s an old archival recording so I’ve been able to listen and get to know the music. It’s quite delightful. The opera exists nicely in Kafka’s weird and wacky, fractured, expressionist world where nothing means everything and everything means nothing and I’m really loving working on it.
Metamorphosis. Photo courtesy of Opera Australia
Steven Berkoff’s libretto is just perfect as well. The language is very direct and almost childlike – it’s that thing where utterances are so simple they seem to contain more in them than is expressed. He’s telling things to the audience a bit like a fairy tale, which makes the Kafka even more visceral, dangerous and frightening. And of course, it fits the music fits...