In the penal colony

Philip Glass

Elegant yet joyful, Richard Brunel’s mise-en-scène is remarkably thrifty. It stays close to Philip Glass’s careful and deliberate score while also serving Kafka’s dense and laconic style.

Marie-Aude-Roux – Le Monde

In the play, director Richard Brunel admirably tackles the macabre absurdity of this scheduled execution. He successfully conveys the horror of the argument, eloquently articulating it with a dark brand of humour where the characters are concerned. The actors offer an impressive performance, alleviating the looming sense of doom that permeates the narrative.

Jacques Schmitt – ResMusica

No one can remain unmoved by this show, be it for its unnerving plot or the stellar performance of each and every participant.

Jacques Schmitt – ResMusica

In the Penal Colony is a resounding success. The significance of the narrative, the relevance of the music and the modernity of the staging all add up to a perfectly cooked show, one that will entice both aficionados and novices with its depth and accessibility.

Élise Ternat –

The representation unfolds at a hellish rhythm thanks to Richard Brunel’s excellent direction. Here, beauty melds into horror and we are spared none of the latter: neither the rape of the convict, the strangely intimate dance that unites him to his executioner for a breathless moment, the absurdly farcical musical chairs game, nor the technical details concerning the harrow, the horrific needle-machine whose purpose is to torture for as long as possible before death finally ensues.

Jean-Marcel Humbert – forum opera

After an hour and fifteen minutes of this perverse and violent game, the spectator, helplessly captivated and verging on nausea, exits the theatre, utterly drained.

Jean-Marcel Humbert – forum opera

Richard Brunel, whose charming staging of Britten’s Albert Herring last year at the Opéra Comique was particularly appreciated, signs another understated and insightful little show.

Caroline Alexander – Webthea

In the penal colony
Philip Glass

Libretto Rudolph Wurlitzer, based on In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka.

Music director Philippe Forget
Director Richard Brunel
Set designer Anouk Dell’Aiera
Costume designer Bruno de Lavenère
Lighting designer David Debrinay
Sound designer Benjamin Hacot
Assistant director Caroline Guiela Nguyen
Dramaturg Catherine Ailloud-Nicolas
Movement director Axelle Mikaeloff
Translator (libretto) Severine Magois

Produced by Opéra national de Lyon, Opéra Théâtre de Besançon, Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, Théâtre de l’Athénée-Louis Jouvet- Paris, Comédie de Valence, Théâtre de Nîmes.


Stefano Ferrari/Michael Smallwood,
Stephen Owen,
Gérald Robert-Tissot,
Mathieu Morin,
Nicolas Hénault

String quintet of the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon


Cédric Cartier
Nicolas Gourbeux
Karol Miczka
Donald O’Neil
Jean-Marc Weibel