‘Brilliantly drilled by the conductor, Sîan Edwards, and the director, Bijan Sheibani, the entire company gave a highly professional and gripping performance.’

Fiona Maddocks , The Observer February 28, 2016

‘David Bruce’s Nothing is a pretty well flawless piece’

Michael Church , The Independent February 29, 2016

‘There could hardly be a stronger testament to Glyndebourne’s education work, which began 30 years ago, than this compelling and unsettling opera by David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell, based on a novel by Janne Teller.’

Edward Bhesania , The Stage February 26, 2016
  • Details

    This stream is no longer available.

    Our next online opera is Annabel Arden’s new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia live from Festival 2016 on Tuesday 21 June.

    If someone you knew declared that life had no meaning, how would you convince them it does?

    That’s the question a group of teenagers ask themselves in Nothing, a compelling new youth opera that premiered at Glyndebourne in February 2016.

    Members of Glyndebourne Youth Opera aged 14-19 perform alongside professional singers in this adaptation of Danish author Janne Teller’s award-winning novel by composer David Bruce and librettist Glyn Maxwell.

    You can see Nothing here on this page from 5.00pm on Friday 6 May until 10.00am on Monday 9 May. It is recommended for those aged 12 and over. If you’re viewing on a mobile device, select full-screen mode for the best experience.

    Bookmark this page and set a reminder now not to miss out.

    Find out more

    Explore the characters, the plot, and discover how this production was brought to life in our interactive guide to Nothing.

    You can also watch our Nothing playlist on our YouTube channel, read our blogpost, What you thought of Nothing, or read about the impact the production has had here.

    Running order

    Act I – 1hr 10m
    Act II – 50m


    How long is the video available for?

    • The opera will be available to watch here on demand from 5.00pm on Friday 6 May until 10.00am on Monday 9 May.

    What is the next opera you can see online?

    • We will be streaming Il barbiere di Siviglia live from Festival 2016 on Tuesday 21 June.

    How can you make sure you don’t miss the next opera stream?

    • Sign up to receive updates, exclusive news and more here.

    How can you take part in a project like Nothing?

    • You can find more details of how to take part here.

    How can you help support Glyndebourne’s education work?

    • If you’re passionate about developing young talent and engaging new audiences in opera, you can help by visiting our Support us page.

    Donate now

    Nothing is a co-commission between Glyndebourne Productions Limited and the Royal Opera House, made possible with the help of MariaMarina Foundation, Arts Council England, The Chalk Cliff Trust, The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, The Charles Peel Charitable Trust, The Eranda Foundation, The Helen Wade Charitable Trust, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Gisela Graham Foundation, RVW Trust and investment from Glyndebourne’s New Generation Programme.

  • Cast and creative team

    Creative team

    Composer David Bruce
    Librettist Glyn Maxwell
    Conductor Sîan Edwards
    Director Bijan Sheibani
    Designer Giles Cadle
    Lighting designer Paule Constable
    Movement director Aline David
    Assistant director Lucy Bradley
    Assistant conductor Lee Reynolds
    Music preparation Matthew Fletcher, Ashley Beauchamp


    Pierre Stuart Jackson
    Agnes Robyn Allegra Parton
    Ursula Marta Fontanals-Simmons
    Johan James Hall
    Karl Tristan Hambleton

    GYO Chorus
    Youth Orchestra
    Southbank Sinfonia

  • Synopsis

    On the first day back at school one September, a boy called Pierre walks out of the class, climbs a plum tree, and declares that ‘nothing matters’. His classmates try without success to bring him down from the tree. Desperate to prove him wrong, they give up their childhood possessions to a bonfire, ‘a Pile of Meaning’, so their tears will prove things matter.

    When this makes no impression on Pierre, they decide to force one another to give up whatever is most important to each of them. This starts with toys and clothes, but soon escalates monstrously: one girl’s hair – the national flag – the corpse of a pet – a figure of Jesus – until finally, with Pierre still claiming life is pointless – the children give up body and soul in a terrible spiral of sacrifice.

    Finally Pierre comes to see the ‘Pile of Meaning’. He climbs it, crying out that life is beautiful – because it means nothing. In rage and regret the children set upon him. He is never seen again. Years later at Christmas, the children, now adults from all walks of life, gather by the plum tree to hang purple baubles on its branches, in recognition that whatever it was they went through together, the life and death of Pierre meant something, and cannot be forgotten.

    Nothing is a story of lost childhood, the getting of wisdom, and the madness of crowds. The children are forced to confront the darkest answer to the question of existence, yet somehow find love and humanity in their responses. They absorb the horror of this communal experience, and move on through life, sadder and wiser, ever searching for truth and meaning.

    Glyn Maxwell