When the Flame Dies

Genre: Stage opera and music theatre. Baritone, Mezzo, Tenor, Soprano, Counter-Tenor; ensemble flute (doubling alto, picc); clarinet (doubling bass); trumpet; horn; percussion; harp; piano; violin 1; violin 2; viola; cello; double bass


Description: A one act opera inspired by French poet and surrealist Jean Cocteau, and his film Orphée
Duration: 60 minutes
Date: 2012

Programme Note

When the Flame Dies explores the life of French poet, novelist, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau and characters from his film Orphée in a fast-paced human drama. Love or creativity? The Poet must choose before the candle flickers and dies. Will he bring back his dead lover from the underworld, or choose art, creativity, and immortal fame?

This is an original, audacious work, whose premiere I had the good fortune to attend. Its clear compositional and dramaturgical structure provides a strong framework for striking visuals, while the combination of impressive vocal and orchestral work, with electronic and pre-recorded found sounds, creates an appropriately haunting ‘echo chamber’ of music and visuals.

Hughes has turned Cocteau’s anguished requiem for Radiguet into a moving, inspiring creation.
— Sally Jane Norman, Professor of Performance Technologies, Director of the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, 26 June 2013 on When the Flame Dies