There is no alternative. The public debate is under the seal of fatalism. There is no other objective than that of universal restrictions. The economy, the climate, overpopulation – the next catastrophe lies in wait at every bend. Minute by minute, the modern media feed us bad news. We know we should act but we feel powerless. We reduce our sphere of activity. We cease asking for anything whatsoever. We retreat into our shells. The link that would constitute values other than economic ones is missing. What might we do?

Happy Happy shows us a society in which efficacity has become the determining value. It is a matter of favouring the formation of synapses as early as possible. Schooling is shortened, studies must be useful, work better organized. Music and the muses have lost their freedom of mind as well as their playful innocence and find themselves reduced to the simple functions to fulfil: they serve for learning more efficiently, communicating more efficiently, relaxing more efficiently, and procuring a real life more efficiently. Music has lost its self-worth. Life, too, perhaps.

Happy Happy brings together, in a sort of cabinet of wonders, impressions, quotations and scenes to become the plea for autonomy and co-humanity. Going back to the origins of Greek theatre, the play, written for a singer and a chorus, explores, in so doing, the connection between individual and crowd. It turns out that the person’s singing gets lost in the hot-tempered aspiration of the multitude at the celebration. And life goes on, ‘Happy Happy’.

(Translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

Photos by Julia Reichart and Ingolf Hatz:


an operatic song cycle with party
by Mathis Nitschke

Libretto developed by Mathis Nitschke, with excerpts from texts by Joseph von Eichendorf, Rainer Maria Rilke, Michel Houellebecq, Bruno Latour, Thomas Gray, Jean Giraudoux, Percy Shelley and others

for soprano and chorus, chamber orchestra, electronics
Novembre 19-22, 2014, National Opera Montpellier

Soprano: Karen Vourc’h
Conductor: Arno Waschk
Director: Urs Schönebaum

Program book to HAPPY HAPPY:
HAPPY HAPPY program book

Lecture on Happy Happy:
Opera as political expression, the chant as utopia – HAPPY HAPPY

Full performance video:

For subtitles, please activate the “cc” button.

Full score and libretto:

Happy Happy Full Score

Happy Happy Libretto

Related Works:

2012 saw the premier of my very first opera, also commissioned by the National opera Montpellier: JETZT >>
n 2015 I started creating opera in public space: VIOLA >>