TALK: Sumidagawa and Curlew River: Britten’s Encounter with Noh
6 September 2012, London
Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan’s leading specialist music and arts college, is staging back-to-back performances of the Noh play Sumidagawa and Benjamin Britten’s opera Curlew River, in London and Suffolk on 7 and 9 September (sumidagawa curlewriver.com). Curlew River is closely based on Sumidagawa, which Britten saw twice when he visited Japan in 1953. In advance of these performances, this event aims to help audiences understand both pieces and put them into context. How does Sumidagawa fit into the Noh tradition? Why did this ancient Japanese art have such a powerful impact on Britten? And how did he digest his Japanese experiences as he produced Curlew River, shifting the locale from Tokyo’s Sumida River to the marshy landscapes of East Anglia, transforming the “capital birds” of the original into curlews, and replacing Buddhism with medieval Christianity? Whether you are able to attend the performances or not, the encounter between one of Japan’s most sophisticated art forms and the UK’s greatest 20th century composer is a fascinating story.
This event is free but booking is essential. Places can be booked at: http://www.dajf.org.uk/events/booking-form.