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Severe sleep disorder fells Somtow

Renowned conductor Somtow Sucharitkul collapsed on June 14 after a concert at the Four Seasons Hotel and was later admitted to Piyavate Hospital.

Published on July 9, 2007

Since he had suffered a minor heart attack 18 months earlier, it was at first feared this was a cardiac problem but his doctors have now confirmed that Somtow is suffering from a severe sleep disorder which, though life-threatening, can be brought under control.

Catherine French Cushing, who is temporarily overseeing the Bangkok Opera, says: "Somtow has spent his entire life working from midnight to 7am on his music and writing. After returning to Bangkok seven years ago, he's also been busy doing administrative work for the opera during the day. Since he never stopped working at night, he's had virtually no sleep for seven years.

"It's finally caught up with him and his doctors have given us the choice of either going on with the season as planned, which might kill Somtow, or giving him a month free of stress so his body can learn how to rest properly again.

"Although Somtow has been quite insistent about continuing with the season as planned, his family and the Bangkok Opera board have overruled him. We need to have him around for the long term."

The Bangkok Opera has announced the following changes in its programming.

l The opera will be on hiatus briefly while a new administrative system is set up. Administrative questions may take a little longer to get answered. 

l "Madame Butterfly", starring Nancy Yuen and directed by Henry Akina, will open on August 29 as planned.

l Chorus rehearsals for "Butterfly", directed by Dominic Sargent, will continue as planned.

l The production of "Die Walküre" will be postponed until November 30, the original date for the premiere of Somtow's new opera "Dan no Ura", which will now be put off until next year. Scouting for a young actor to play the Japanese emperor will begin again in August.

l Those who've already purchased tickets for the Wagner opera as of July 1 will be given the same seats for the November 30 or December 2 performances, and will also receive a free ticket to "Madame Butterfly" on the date of their choice. If they are unable to make either of those performances, they can get a refund from either Ticketmajor or Bangkok Opera, depending on where they bought their tickets.

For further information, call Bangkok Opera at (02) 663 3236 during office hours.

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