Curlew River

?An involving, direct, unforgettable performance.?  – The Guardian (UK) 

CPA Executive and Artistic Director Emil Kang on Curlew River:

“Arriving in Chapel Hill on November 6 & 7 is a performance that I have been looking forward to since its conception.

The 20th century English composer Benjamin Britten wrote Curlew River after watching a Noh theatre performance in Japan. Unmistakable in the music of Curlew River are the sounds and themes that Britten heard during his visit, and the original production paid homage to traditional Noh costuming and stage setting.

This new production, which we are proud to be co-producing alongside Barbican Centre in London, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, and CalPerformances at UC Berkeley, is an immersive journey into the mind of a deeply troubled protagonist. Tenor Ian Bostridge is devastating in his role as the Madwoman, desperately searching for her lost son. Joining Bostridge on stage is an outstanding British cast, the Britten Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia Voices.

Traditionally performed in churches, the aisle between the pews representing the boat where much of the piece takes place, Memorial Hall will be transformed to accommodate the incredible multi-media set-piece put together by director Netia Jones. Projections of birds in flight, rippling waters, and shadowy figures are all part of the intricately designed staging. The music is magnificently haunting, and I encourage you to watch the video above for a preview of what you?ll see on stage.

We take great pride in being one of only a handful of US presenters of this work, and I?m positive that the performances on November 6 and 7 will be something that those in attendance will talk about for years to come. I look forward to sharing the experience with you.”


Music by Benjamin Britten
Libretto by William Plomer
Based on the play Sumidagawa by Jürö Motomasa

Ian Bostridge, Madwoman
Jeremy White, Abbot
Neal Davies, The Traveller
Mark Stone, The Ferryman

Netia Jones, director/designer and live video performer
Martin Fitzpatrick, music director
Britten Sinfonia
Britten Sinfonia Voices
Soloists from the Pacific Boychoir

Co-produced by Carolina Performing Arts with Barbican Centre, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The 11/6 performance of Curlew River is sponsored by Rick and Carol McNeel.


Performance Details

Performance Length: 71 minutes

No intermission

No late seating

Food trucks, parking & more…

Context & Synopsis of  Britten’s Curlew River >>


In the news:

The Guardian (UK) Five Star Review >> 

The Telegraph (UK) Five Star Review >>