King Priam's wife dreams their newborn son will cause his father's death. Torn between love for the child and his duty as a king, Priam reluctantly agrees to the boy's murder. His choice leads to a cataclysmic, bloody war.
Tippett's second opera is a powerful expression of the composer's deeply held pacifism. It was first performed at the 1962 Coventry Festival, commemorating the consecration of the new cathedral and remembering the tremendous global human loss of World War II.
From the bloody story of the Iliad Tippett constructs a harrowing meditation on the trauma of war, and how individual choices can trigger irrevocable horror. Tippett's distinctive musical language entwines breathtakingly beautiful sonorities with the driving pulse of war machines. ETO's original production is ample tribute to this landmark in British opera.
News and features
30 January 2014
In preparation for English Touring Opera's production of King Priam, we look at how pacifist ideals have influenced opera in the last century.