Curlew River

We went last night – as recommended by Rupert Christiansen on his twitter account – to a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River, an opera (is it an opera ? not really) which I didn’t know about, performed most magically in the darkness of St. Bartholomew the Great, whose Norman interiors provided an atmospheric setting for what was described by Britten as a ‘Parable for Church Performance’, with the very faint smell of incense and plastic sheeting providing the performance space down the nave.   The music is said to have been deeply influenced by Britten’s visit on holiday to Japan in early 1956 and the text – by William Plomer – is based on a Japanese noh play Sumidagawa.   But the mood seemed more medieval, partly because of the setting, but also the austerity of the tenor voices and use of plainchant.   Very intense.


3 thoughts on “Curlew River

  1. The first (Colin Graham) production had monks enacting the Noh-inspired drama. Very moving. The plainchant needs an ample acoustic, so the setting in St Bartholomew’s couldn’t be more appropriate.

  2. So glad your blog brings news of Curlew River – directed and produced by Freddie Waxman (22 years old). A sensational and out of comfort zone evening delivered by (mostly) students. I hope he has more projects in the pipeline before going to the Guildhall school of music in the autumn ….

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