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David Harsent

Biography

English poet David Harsent made his Royal Opera debut in 1991 as librettist for Birtwistle’s Gawain. He returned in 2008 as librettist to Birtwistle’s The Minotaur and in 2015 wrote the libretto for Birtwistle’s The Cure, performed that year in the Linbury Studio Theatre alongside Birtwistle’s The Corridor, for which Harsent also wrote the libretto. Other work seen at the Royal Opera House includes Watkins’s In the Locked Room.

Harsent’s poetry collections include Legion, winner of the Forward Prize for best collection, 2005; Night, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize and the Costa Prize, and winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize; In Secret, his English versions of poems by Yannis Ritsos, a PBS Recommended Translation; and Fire Songs winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize. Harsent has collaborated with a number of composers, though most often with Birtwistle; his musical collaborations have been performed at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms), the Concertgebouw, the Megaron, Athens, the Wales Millennium Centre, the Wigmore Hall, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the South Bank Centre and Carnegie Hall, New York. His works with Birtwistle include the song cycles The Woman and the Hare and Songs from the Same Earth.

Harsent’s other awards include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award, an Eric Gregory Award, two Arts Council Poetry Bursaries, a Society of Authors Fellowship and a Cholmondeley Award. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Videos

News and features

Don’t Look Now: Operatic responses to Orpheus

15 September 2015
Don’t Look Now: Operatic responses to Orpheus

Why does he look back? The Royal Opera’s five Orpheus works this year each give very different answers.

Birtwistle and the Greeks

16 June 2015
Birtwistle and the Greeks

Greek myths and dramas have inspired the acclaimed British composer Harrison Birtwistle throughout his career.

Opera Essentials: The Corridor/The Cure

9 June 2015
Opera Essentials: The Corridor/The Cure

Our quick introduction to this double programme of chamber operas by Harrison Birtwistle.

Photos