Lyric opera in two acts. Libretto by David Pountney.
Commissioned jointly by the Royal Academy of Music, London, UK and The Juilliard School, New York, USA.
UK premiere: 18th March 2011 - Royal Academy of Music Opera and Sinfonia at the Royal Academy of Music, London, conducted by Jane Glover.
US premiere: 16th November 2011 - Students of The Julliard School at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, New York, conducted by Anne Manson.
The piece consists of three interlocking stories of students involved in political action in three different situations.
“Die Weiße Rose” was the name taken by a group of students at the University of Munich, led by Sophie and Hans Scholl. They produced leaflets protesting against the National Socialist government of Germany in 1942-3 until they were arrested and guillotined.
“Soar to Heaven” follows two characters, Wu and Zhou, involved on opposite sides of the Cultural Revolution in China.
“The Oxford Revolution” tells the story of James Meredith, who fought a lonely battle against segregation and racial prejudice to become the first black student to enrol at “Ole Miss”, the University of Mississippi, in the USA.
There are, inevitably and properly, some differences between the original libretto and what Max ultimately set to music. Most of these are insignificant, but all the Latin texts in the opera were added by Max, and texts for the alternating black / white choruses (Scene 19) and final chorus (Scene 28) were written by him.