Arrow down iconArrow left iconArrow right iconArrow up iconAudio iconBasket iconClose iconDocument iconExclamation mark iconMenu iconPhoto iconQuotation markQuote iconTick iconUser icon

The Minotaur

Harrison Birtwistle's reworking of an ancient myth had its premiere at the Royal Opera House in 2008. The opera's dark beauty shows one of our leading composers at the height of his powers.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of The Minotaur. It was last on stage 17–28 January 2013 as part of the Autumn 2012/13 season.

Introduction

The Minotaur – half-bull, half-man – has been imprisoned in a labyrinth on the island of Crete. Young men and women are sacrificed to him each year to repay an old debt. Can Theseus end this bloodshed?

Background

Harrison Birtwistle's reading of this ancient Greek myth focuses on the troubled inner world of the Minotaur, and his longing to discover his true identity and voice. Poet David Harsent provides a libretto of lyrical intensity, continuing a rich, creative partnership with Birtwistle – the pair have worked on a number of operas together, including Gawain, which was also commissioned by The Royal Opera and first performed here in 1991.

The Minotaur brings a raw and visceral dramatic world to the stage. The Overture is played against a backdrop of menacing waves, which herald the darkness to come. Alison Chitty's elegant designs reimagine the centre of the labyrinth as an amphitheatre-like space, where the Minotaur gores his victims. But the Minotaur also has a human side – during his dreams he acquires language and gives voice to his dark existence in monologues of poignant power. The central role, written for the acclaimed bass John Tomlinson, wears a bull's head mask, reminiscent of those used in ancient Greek rituals.

News and features

View more

On Wikipedia

The Minotaur (opera)

The Minotaur is an opera in two acts, with 13 scenes by English composer Harrison Birtwistle to a libretto by poet David Harsent, commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London. The work, a retelling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur, premiered at the Royal Opera House on 15 April 2008 and was shown on BBC2 television on 7 June 2008. The score is modernistic, and the scenes fall into three types: bullfights; scenes between Ariadne and Theseus; and dream sequences for the Minotaur, in which the creature has the gift of speech. The opera lasts about 140 minutes, not counting the interval. The opera was revived at the Royal Opera House for five performances in early 2013, featuring most of the original cast, most notably Christine Rice, John Tomlinson, Andrew Watts and Johan Reuter.

Read the complete The Minotaur (opera) article on Wikipedia, available under a Creative Commons license.