Each work distills a moment in Classical mythology. In The Cure the sorceress Medea applies her witchcraft to the aged Aeson, father of Jason, who is near death. In The Corridor Orpheus is leading his wife Eurydice from death into life.
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Harrison Birtwistle is a key figure in contemporary music. To mark the composer's 80th birthday, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group present a double programme of chamber operas: The Cure, a new co-commission between The Royal Opera, Aldeburgh Music and London Sinfonietta; and a new production of Birtwistle's acclaimed 2009 opera The Corridor, written to open the 62nd Aldeburgh Festival. Each is a collaboration with librettist David Harsent, who previously worked with Birtwistle on The Minotaur – and, like that work, each returns to Birtwistle's recurrent obsession with Classical mythology.
The Cure draws on an episode in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which Medea uses her powers to rebirth her lover's ageing father. In The Corridor Birtwistle focuses on the pivotal moment in the tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice. Birtwistle has described The Corridor 'as a single movement from the Orpheus story magnified, like a photographic blow-up… I've thought of it as virtuosic, close-up chamber theatre'.