When the Flame Dies

Length: 60'

Augustine Hall, Canterbury, 17th Oct 2012

Publisher: University of York Music Press; ISMN: M 57036 389 6

Genre: Opera and Music Theatre

This is an original, audacious work, whose premiere I had the good fortune to attend. Its clear compositional and dramaturgical structure provides a strong framework for striking visuals, while the combination of impressive vocal and orchestral work, with electronic and pre-recorded found sounds, creates an appropriately haunting 'echo chamber' of music and visuals. Hughes has turned Cocteau's anguished requiem for Radiguet into a moving, inspiring creation.
Sally Jane Norman, Professor of Performance Technologies, Director of the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, 26 June 2013 on When the Flame Dies

When the Flame Dies explores the life of French poet, novelist, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau and characters from his film Orphée in a fast-paced human drama. Five outstanding young singers join the New Music Players ensemble of twelve top musicians. Live electronics and stunning video projection enhance this exciting collaboration with Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival.

When the Flame Dies by composer Ed Hughes with a libretto by Roger Morris was first presented in its fully orchestrated version in performance at the Canterbury Festival, in association with Sounds New, on 17 October 2012.

In the pre-concert talk, Ed Hughes and Roger Morris discussed the background to the opera, including its references to Jean Cocteau’s 1950 film ‘Orphée’ with Prof. Michal Grover-Friedlander, author of ‘Vocal Apparitions: The Attraction of Cinema to Opera’ (Princeton, 2005). An extract from this conversation can be heard in the video clip on this page. The photographs display images from the rehearsals for the Canterbury performance.


Love or creativity? The Poet must choose before the candle flickers and dies. Will he bring back his dead lover from the underworld, or choose art, creativity, and immortal fame?

The audio sample provided is from the recording made live at the performance on 17 October 2012. Recording produced and engineered by Simon Weir and Morgan Roberts. The recording is copyright Ed Hughes, 2012. Please do not reuse in any form without permission from the composer.

Cast 17 October 2012

Cocteau - Edward Grint

Princess Death - Lucy Williams

Orpheus - Julian Podger

Euridice - Emily Phillips

Raymond - Andrew Radley


Ed Hughes | Composer

Roger Morris | Libretto

William Reynolds | Video Designer

Antony Pitts | Sound design consultant

New Music Players

Carlos del Cueto | Conductor


New Music Players:

Flute/Alto flute/piccolo - Rowland Sutherland

Clarinet/Bass clarinet - Fiona Cross

Trumpet - Edward Maxwell

Horn - Richard Steggall

Percussion - Owen Gunnell

Harp - Federica Mossone

Piano - Richard Casey

Violin 1 - Susanne Stanzeleit

Violin 2 - Adam Summerhayes

Viola - Bridget Carey

Cello - Andrew Fuller

Double Bass - Lucy Shaw