Orford: Britten makes return in new double drama

A SUFFOLK village is set to host a medieval Japanese musical play followed by the Benjamin Britten opera it inspired, in a remarkable dramatic double-bill.

Almost 40 years after its premiere, Orford’s Church of St Bartholomew will again be the venue for Britten’s 1964 chamber opera Curlew River, preceded by Sumidagawa - a drama the Suffolk composer saw during a stay in Asia.

Both stories focus on a madwoman’s search for her abducted young son and are performed in their original languages by a cast of Japanese and British artists.

Musicians and Noh performers from Tokyo University of the Arts will retell the Sumidagawa story, written by Kanze Motomasa in the early 15th century, before Britten’s tragedy - aptly subtitled A Parable for Church Performance - is played out in the same venue it was premiered on June 13, 1964, when the original cast included Peter Pears and Bryan Drake.

The operatic medieval tale, set near the fictional Curlew River, in the Anglia fenlands, will be told alongside its influential predecessor at 3pm St Bartholomew on September 9 - two days after a performance at Christ Church, Spitalfields.


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Communications manager Yuki Kosuge said: “The contrast between the austere Noh aesthetics and very contemporary production by English director David Edwards will be very interesting.”

Tickets are �20, or �16 for students, on 07810 016745, via info@sumidagawa-curlewriver.com or at sumidagawa-curlewriver.com. Tickets can also be obtained from local promoter Jacki Maslin on 01394 450799 or by emailing jackimaslin@btinternet.com.

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