Glyndebourne will next year stage an opera based on Nothing, a YA novel by Danish author Janne Teller released in the UK by Scottish independent publisher Strident.
Nothing is a boy who decides there is no meaning in life, so climbs a tree and stays there. His classmates try to prove him wrong by building a "heap of meaning" in a sawmill but events take a dark and morbid turn when they try and tell each other what meaningful things they should give up.
The novel was first published in Denmark with the title Intet and the English version was released by Strident in 2011.
The opera interpretation was adapted by the novel by composer David Bruce, who also adapted Philip Pullman’s The Firework Maker’s Daughter, and the director is Bijan Sheibani.
Sheibani said: “Nothing is a very rich novel that reminded me of the huge, exciting, difficult journey teenagers go on, as they move from childhood into adulthood. Whilst the basic story is simple, Nothing spins a web of emotional conflicts, ethicaldilemmas, and fascinating philosophical ideas.”
The story will be performed by members of Glyndebourne Youth Opera (teenagers aged 14-19), alongside professional singers.
Strident publisher Keith Charters said: “In recent years we have had many enquiries about stage and film interpretations of Nothing, with a theatre version already staged in Germany. For the first UK interpretation to be in the form of an opera is a wonderful surprise.”
The novel has won several international awards, including the Michael L Printz Honor and the Batchelder Translation Honor from the American Library Association in the US, and the French Le Prix Libbylit for best novel for children in the French-speaking world.
In the UK, fans include author David Almond, who interviewed Teller for a BBC Radio 4 programme about translated childrens’s literature, entitled "A World Beyond Alice".
"Nothing, the opera" will take place 25-27th February and tickets are available from the Glyndebourne website.