Sardanapalo - Part 1

"Franz Liszt spent nearly five years on Sardanapalo, an opera based on Lord Byron's tragedy of 1821. Working intermittently, he abandoned an incomplete draft in 1851. The surviving music constitutes the entirety of Act 1, a unique mixture of Italianate pastiche and mid-century harmonic innovation.

Now the opera is being revived by David Trippett at the University of Cambridge. Alongside the publication of a critical edition with EMB, the project promises an exciting contribution to the burgeoning field of practice-based research with performances by rising opera singers Anush HovhannisyanSamuel Sakker and Arshak Kuzikyan." (


What drew me to the project from the outset was an incredible story, this was a chance to get involved in something of both musical and historical significance, painting a picture around music that has lain silent for a near 200 years. So when David approached me to direct the documentary, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

The talent surrounding the project, both academic and creative has been astounding and with the release of the trailer this week, it has only now become apparent just how deep the interest is in our endeavours. My work being featured in the New York TimesThe Telegraph, The Independent and beyond, is not something I am used to and I can only thank our incredible team for working so tirelessly on the project. 

Projects like this remind me why I choose filmmaking, the art of story telling has been around for thousands of years and whilst the mediums may have evolved, the premise has remained constant. It is very easy to get carried away with what we can do these days with technology, for me though it is allowing the story to breathe which is where the most value can be achieved.

We are riding this wave of publicity and intrigue, but it is now that the REAL work begins as the final 30 minute documentary draws near to completion. 

A huge thank you to Adam Prosser for these fantastic shots (1970 Nikon F with Kodak Tri X film) and for being second camera op and ideas man on the shoot. And also Myles Eastwood for capturing the audio so beautifully in what was a breathtaking performance shoot.

Tom Andrews