The Sleeping Thousand

Four singers, ensemble and live electronics  



Described as “political sci-fi”, Adam Maor and Yonatan Levy’s opera “The Sleeping Thousand” shapes the Middle-Eastern conflict as an epic fantasy.

A thousand Palestinian administrative detainees, arrested in Israeli gaols without trial, go on a hunger strike to capture the world’s attention. As international pressure mounts and the strikers’ health deteriorates, the Israeli state – represented in the opera by the Israeli Prime Minister, his assistant Nurit and the head of the Secret Service – resorts to an unconventional solution, inducing a comatose state on the prisoners, and confining them to a high-security dormitory located inside the Prime Minister’s office.

The plan seems to work: the sleeping detainees are no longer making headlines. However, little by little the Israeli society starts suffering from sleeping disorders and experiencing a recurring collective nightmare in which during a hafla (in Arabic “get-together”, “feast”), Jews are devoured by Arabs. Investigating the origins of this terrifying dream, the secret services discover that the Palestinian detainees are in fact lucid-dreamers: by maintaining consciousness in their sleep they have retained the ability to communicate with each other, and are committing dream attacks on the Jewish psyche.

The information regarding the state of Palestinian detainees and their ability to control the Jewish mind causes panic among the already deranged Israeli society, sleep-deprived since seven years. The Prime Minister buckles under the collective pressure; the head of Secret Service seizes the opportunity and hatches a plan. He disguises the PM’s assistant as a Palestinian detainee, puts her to sleep, and sends her off in order to infiltrate the dreamscape. The assistant discovers that the “Sleeping Thousand” are indeed lucid-sleepers, but without any connection to the collective nightmare of Israeli society. Rather, they have established a new autonomous existential sphere, a spiritual homeland, liberated of history and space. The assistant decides to leave behind the physical world and join this new spiritual homeland.

The Sleeping Thousand is commissioned by Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, Helsinki Festival, Théâtres de Luxembourg, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), La Monnaie (Brussels), and Aldeburgh Music. It will be premiered during the 2019 edition of the Aix-en-Provence festival, by Elena Schwarz and the United Instruments of Lucilin. The soloists will be Gan-ya Ben-Gur Akselrod, Benjamin Alunni and David Fry.