The latest opera created by acclaimed composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle with a libretto by Roehampton professor, David Harsent, will open as part of a double bill at the world-famous Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden on Thursday, for a six-performance run.
Posted: 17 June 2015
Professor Harsent is chair of the University’s Roehampton Poetry Centre, and current holder of the TS Eliot Poetry Prize.
The Cure, a 50 minute opera based on the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, received its world premiere at the respected Aldeburgh Festival last weekend. It is part of a double bill with The Corridor – also a collaboration between Harsent and Birtwistle – which premiered at Aldeburgh in 2009. So far, the operas have been reviewed enthusiastically by critics in The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, the Financial Times and The New York Times and further reviews are expected.
The Corridor and The Cure take their narratives from moments in Greek myth. The former freeze-frames the devastating moment when Orpheus turns to look back at Eurydice as they leave the underworld and loses her forever. The latter takes as its starting point Jason’s triumphant arrival home with the Golden Fleece and focuses on the magical rejuvenation of his father by Jason’s sorceress lover Medea.
What is a libretto?
A libretto is a text – in effect, a play – written to be set to music. Its subject and dramatic tone will have been agreed between writer and composer before the libretto is begun.
Professor Harsent and Harrison Birtwistle have worked together a number of times since their first project in 1991 - an opera called Gawain, which was also performed at the Royal Opera House. Together, they have written seven pieces, two of them main-stage operas, which have been performed at opera houses and concert halls in Britain, Europe and America.
As Professor of Creative Writing at the University, David Harsent supervises PhD students and teaches masterclasses. He recently taught a short module on song-writing and last year co-hosted a seminar on creative writing at Wimbledon BookFest, of which the University is a partner.
You can watch David Harsent and Harrison Birtwistle discuss The Corridor and The Cure on YouTube and see below images from the world premiere of the opera at the Aldeburgh Festival.
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