This experiment in ‘music theatre’ opened at the Lyric Hammersmith on 14 May 1998, with Rebecca Blankenship as a singer and Paul Suits as a pianist. Lepage intended it as tribute to Mahler and an exploration of the crossover between art and life. Three years after he wrote his famous songs on the death of children, Mahler’s own daughter died of diphtheria; the singer in the play, who has lost a child but is now pregnant again, has a sense of foreboding about performing Mahler’s music. Blake’s original involvement was simply to provide new translations of the poems by Friedrich Ruckert on which Mahler had based his five songs. But for a subsequent production performed in Glasgow, the Lincoln Center in New York and other venues in 1999, he collaborated with Lepage in expanding the text, with the addition of a new character, the singer’s ex-husband, played by Tony Guilfoyle.
No text of the play has been published but Blake’s versions of the ‘Kindertotenlieder’ appear in his Selected Poems.