Harrison Birtwistle’s new music-theatre work The Cure received its premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival, and moved to the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre for further performances.
Setting words by librettist David Harsent, The Cure focuses on the story of Medea as she returns Aeson to youth. It is conceived and performed as a double-bill with 2009 work The Corridor (also premiered in Aldeburgh), which in turn freeze-frames the moment Orpheus turns to look back at Eurdyice, losing her forever.
Harrison Birtwistle has gathered a team of trusted collaborators around him for this production, including Alison Chitty (designer) and Elizabeth Atherton (Medea/Euridice).
The performances are conducted by Geoffrey Paterson, who has previously conducted Theseus Game and In Broken Images as part of the South Bank Centre’s celebration of Birtwistle’s 80th birthday in 2014.
The new work has been met with critical acclaim. David Allen in The New York Times states that Harrison Birtwistle and poet David Harsent have “written musical theatre of the highest quality”. As always, Birtwistle’s music “reveals just as much of humanity’s most basic fears and passions”.
On stage “Alison Chitty’s designs use colour and symbol to powerful effect” (The Financial Times). The double bill is “brilliantly conducted” by Geoffrey Paterson (The Sunday Times) with “hard-edged detail” (The Financial Times), whilst Elizabeth Atherton, as a “wonderfully realistic Euridice and a fine Medea” (The Guardian), gives a “mesmerising portrayal” in both roles (The Times).
You can watch an interview with Harrison Birtwistle, David Harsent, Alison Chitty and director Martin Duncan here