Timothy Knapman: I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle in a single sitting. From the first page, I was transfixed by Shirley Jackson’s mastery of voice, atmosphere and incident. The book is by turns unsettling, moving and hilarious (the scene with Helen and Lucille in Chapter Two is worthy of Jane Austen). It is heavy with the memory - and the threat - of death, but it also radiates the strange and powerful love that binds the sisters Constance and Merricat. I recognised at once that there was something elemental and poetic about the story: almost as if,

beneath the brilliant and menacing comedy of manners, it was a modern fairy tale. It was that elemental quality that inspired me to think that the book would make a surprising and powerful opera. Only opera – with the particular access it offers to the passions of its characters – can do justice to this extraordinary world. It would be an honour and a joy to create a twin for this unforgettable novel, to take its words and its darkness and clothe them in music and light.