Talks & Events
Live Performance

Performance: Dead Cat Bounce by Waste Paper Opera

25 Jul 2024 6.30-8pm

Nottingham Contemporary
Nottingham NG1 2GB


Dead Cat Bounce – an oratorio about finance and catastrophe

Dead Cat Bounce is a collaboration between Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera (Klara Kofen and James Oldham) exploring financial alchemy and the unmaking of reality in the time of catastrophe. Staged within a sculptural installation, the performance takes the form of an oratorio, a mode of baroque performance in which instruments and voice are used to tell a sacred narrative.

Click here to view the trailer.

The work unfolds over five interwoven vignettes of pre-emptive catastrophe. In China (2016), five hitmen arrive in court to discover that they have each subcontracted another to kill the same real estate developer. At the palace of Louis XVI (1788), thirty Swiss virgins are having their teeth checked in order to secure the national debt. In Miami (2027), an insurance broker redrafts a contract for a house that is already underwater. In Jerusalem (589 BC), the prophet Jeremiah weeps incessantly for the impending wrath of an unforgiving god. In earthquake-struck Japan (1855), a brothel-owner pays tribute to a catfish deity as she surveys the sunlit ruins of the city.

Musically, the work draws loosely on Jomelli’s Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah, interpreted through Waste Paper Opera’s approach bringing together the absurd with the sacred, improvisatory elements and scored material.

Dwelling in the strange light of speculative times, Dead Cat Bounce is a story of unpayable debts, entangled histories and repeated jokes.


Over the course of 2024 Dead Cat bounce will tour to Eastside Projects (Birmingham), Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham) and Arts Catalyst (Sheffield), with the collaboration of Radar Loughborough and Birmingham Opera Company. The work was commissioned by Arts Catalyst (Sheffield) and Medialab Matadero (Madrid) in 2022. It was developed at London Performance Studios and Wysing Arts Centre, and premiered at Somerset House.

Dead Cat Bounce is supported by Arts Council England, Marchus Trust, Hinrichsen Foundation, Birmingham Opera Company.

Music /Chorus Master – James Oldham

Libretto & Design – Gary Zhexi Zhang / Klara Kofen

Gabriella Liandu – The Historian

Meili Li – The Prophet Jeremiah

Geoff Clapham – The Real Estate Agent of Miami

Klara Kofen – Mark I

Gary Zhexi Zhang – Mark II

Sarah Farmer – Violin

Chihiro Ono – Viola

Sam Wooster - Trumpet

Aaron Diaz – Sousaphone

Anna Palmer – Keyboards

Cameron Graham – Percussion


This event will take place in The Space.

If you have any questions around access or have specific access requirements we can accommodate, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or phoning 0115 948 9750.

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