Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of The Canticles. It was last on stage 10–12 July 2013 as part of the Summer 2012/13 season.
Benjamin Britten’s five Canticles distil his immense talent as an opera composer into miniature musical jewels. Written between 1947 and 1974, the pieces span a large proportion of his composing life. All five Canticles are characterized by compressed musical forms, intense drama and a mood of spiritual elevation.
In a production marking 100 years since Britten’s birth, the five Canticles are brought together in one sequence by a remarkable creative team. Director Neil Bartlett and lighting designer Paule Constable collaborate with renowned Britten interpreters tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist Julius Drake, alongside other leading singers, and artists from the worlds of physical theatre, dance and the visual arts.
News and features
10 July 2013
Find out more about the musical gems that map Benjamin Britten’s genius as a composer.
8 June 2013
The British tenor on the challenges and rewards of five of Britten's rarely performed gems.
29 April 2013
A look at five works created in parallel to the composer's iconic post-war operas.
The five Canticles constitute a series of five musical works by composer Benjamin Britten. The pieces were written at various points in his career, with three of them written as memorials. Instrumentation differs on each piece, and several are based on non-sacred texts. A review in Opera Today notes, "Britten didn't draw upon the Scriptures for the texts of his canticles, which resemble cantatas more than church hymns in scale and structure, but an intense religious spirit pervades them all." Critic Peter Evans notes the works contain a "mood of spiritual elevation intense enough to demand realization in an ambitious musical structure."