Michael Nyman: The man who mistook his wife for a hat

Credit: Anne Deniau

New College Ante-chapel
30 & 31 January 2015
Tickets £12/£6 concessions from TicketSource

Mrs P: Rose Rands;
Dr P: Brian McAlea;
Dr S: Tim Coleman

Musical director: Michael Pandya;
Director: Michael Burden;
Repetiteur: James Orrell

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a one-act chamber opera by Michael Nyman which was first performed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, on 27 October 1986. The libretto is by libretto by Christopher Rawlence, who adpated it from the case study of the same name by Oliver Sacks. Accordsing to Saks, the story ‘inestiagtes the world of a person (Dr P) with visual agnosia (or “mental blindness” due to damage of the visual parts of the brain). Such patients “see but do not see”. They see colours, lines, boundaries, simple shapes, patterns, movement – but they are unable to recognise, or find sense in, what they see. They cannot recognise people or places or common objects; their visual world is no longer meaningful’ In Nyman’s opera, Dr P, a singer and singing teacher, is able to continue to communciate through music, and the minimalist score makes use of songs by Robert Schumann, in particular, ‘Ich grolle nicht’ from Dichterliebe.