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Semper Dowland, semper dolens theatre of melancholy
The Corridor a scena for soprano, tenor and six instruments (world premiere)
Harrison Birtwistle music
David Harsent libretto (The Corridor)
Elizabeth Atherton soprano
Mark Padmore tenor
Peter Gill director
Alison Chitty set & costume designer
Paul Pyant lighting designer
Lorna Heavey video art and projection design
Rachel Lopez de la Nieta associate director
Ryan Wigglesworth conductor
The Corridor freeze-frames the devastating moment when Orpheus turns to look back at Eurydice as they leave the underworld and he loses her forever. ‘I’m obsessed with the myth of Orpheus’, says Birtwistle. ‘I see The Corridor as a single moment from the Orpheus story magnified, like a photographic blowup. I’ve thought of it as virtuosic, close-up chamber theatre, with the Sinfonietta musicians in the action as well as the singers.’
The passionate melancholy of Elizabethan master John Dowland’s music is another of Birtwistle’s obsessions. In Semper Dowland, semper dolens (‘always Dowland, always doleful’ was Dowland’s own, punning description of himself), Birtwistle arranges Dowland’s Seven Teares Figured in Seven Passionate Pavanes and interweaves them with Dowland songs.
This new double bill is brought to life by a creative team strongly associated with Birtwistle’s work: poet and librettist David Harsent, director Peter Gill, designer Alison Chitty, lighting designer Paul Pyant and the London Sinfonietta.
Commissioned and produced by the Aldeburgh Festival and Southbank Centre, in association with the London Sinfonietta and Bregenz Festival.
Pre-performance talk David Harsent, Alison Chitty and Peter Gill discuss their collaborations with Harrison Birtwistle
Britten Studio, Snape 7pm. Admission free, but please book.
Supported by the Aldeburgh Opera Benefactors and a small syndicate of individuals
Performance sponsored by Pickett
Tickets £28, £20, £10 (under 27s half price)
Coach £4 A (6.30pm)
Harrison Birtwistle’s music theatre works have produced some of the most compelling moments in British culture over five decades, from the scandalous impact of Punch and Judy (premiered at the 1968 Aldeburgh Festival) to the huge success of The Minotaur in 2008.
In 2004 his opera The Io Passion premiered at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, opening the 57th Aldeburgh Festival. 'Aubades and Nocturnes' from The Io Passion form part of the London Sinfonietta's programme on 13 June this year.
Birtwistle's music can also be heard during this year's Aldeburgh Festival in Harrison's Clocks (13 June), An Imaginary Landscape (15 June), Shadows and Darkness (17 June), BBC Discovering Music (22 June), Mahler Chamber Orchestra I (25 June) and An Interrupted Endless Melody (27 June).