Eight Songs for a Mad King

2 – 29 March 2020

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Music by Peter Maxwell Davies
Text by Randolph Stow and George III

This new production by New Zealand Opera, directed by Thomas de Mallet Burgess and designed by Robin Rawstorne sees a King in distress transformed into a modern corporate everyman as a disarming device to explore our complicated relationship with mental health and power. As an added twist, you will experience the action up close again, with only a window separating you and the King.
Maxwell Davies’ extraordinary score derives from the songs King George III played on his mechanical organ and attempted to train his bullfinches to sing. The music requires a baritone of extraordinary technique to sing over five octaves, with New Zealander Robert Tucker fit for the challenge. Partnering with the ground-breaking contemporary music by Stroma New Music Ensemble, conducted by Hamish McKeich, this modern take on opera promises to be a bold and immersive experience.

Supported by New Zealand Festival of the Arts and Auckland Arts Festival

*Contains themes relating to mental distress.
These performances of Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies are given by permission of Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd, exclusive agents for Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd of London.

WELLINGTON OPENING NIGHT HAS SOLD OUT! There are seats available for other nights. Don’t miss this innovative and moving opera. To purchase single tickets in Wellington click here, and to book for Auckland click here.

Christchurch tickets can only be purchased through a subscription. Single tickets for Christchurch will be on sale 11 Feb 2020.


Performance Details


The performance is 1 hour 15 minutes long including a 15 minute interval.



There are no surtitles for this production



RNZB Dance Centre, 115 Wakefield Street

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square

Tour Dates


11,13,14,16,17,19 March 2020 / 8.30pm

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place


2,4,5,7, March 2020 / 8.30pm

RNZB Dance Centre, 115 Wakefield Street


25,26,28,29 March 2020 / 8.30pm

Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square

Meet The Cast

Robert Tucker

The King

The Creative Team

Thomas de Mallet Burgess – Director

Robin Rawstorne – Design

Hamish McKeich – Conductor

Orchestra – Stroma new music ensamble