An Opera by Philip Glass. Adaptation by Christopher Hampton Based on the novel by Franz Kafka

The meeting of two extraordinary minds - Philip Glass and Franz Kafka.

Both are masters of their craft. Each has his own instantly recognisable style. Together, they are the perfect match.

Kafka's nightmarish tale of a man arrested and prosecuted for an unknown crime by a relentless and inaccessible authority has lost none of its chilling potency down the years. Philip Glass brings his signature music and dramatic force to this literary classic. Working with Christopher Hampton as librettist, this new opera faithfully follows Kafka's original story, relishing the author's notorious paranoia and bizarre sense of humour.

Philip Glass and Music Theatre Wales have developed a striking creative relationship over the years, continuing to produce exciting new work for contemporary opera audiences. Glass had long cherished the idea of turning The Trial into an opera and chose Music Theatre Wales as the company to do it.


The Trial begins with the unexpected arrest of Josef K. by two men who appear in his bedroom. It is his 30th birthday, so perhaps this is a joke. But it isn’t, although he is allowed to carry on with his everyday life. The reason for his arrest is not made clear and so K. is forced to defend himself against an unknown charge, attending a Court that takes place in the strangest of locations at unspecified times.

Initially K. resolves to fight the system and prove his innocence, but at every fresh encounter with a bizarre array of characters the possibility of resolution evaporates. Stifled by the helplessness of his situation, K. has no choice left but to accept his fate. Which he does.


The Trial made its world premiere at the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House in October 2014. It was a co-commission and co-production between Music Theatre Wales, the Royal Opera, Theater Magdeburg and Scottish Opera. The score is dedicated to Music Theatre Wales

Michael McCarthy was awarded Best Director for his production of The Trial at the Wales Theatre Awards in January 2015.


Michael Rafferty Conductor

Michael McCarthy Director

Simon Banham Designer

Ace McCarron Lighting Designer


Josef K Johnny Herford

Fräulein Bürstner | Leni Amanda Forbes

Frau Grubach | Washerwoman (Wife of Court Usher) Rowan Hellier

Titorelli | Flogger | Student (Berthold) | Clerk of Court Paul Curievici

Guard 1 (Franz) | Block Michael Bennett

Lawyer Huld | Magistrate | Court Usher Gwion Thomas

Guard 2 (Willem) | Usher/ Clerk of the Court / Priest Nicholas Folwell

Inspector | Uncle Albert Michael Druiett


Michael McCarthy will be directing the American premiere of The Trial at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2017.