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Paul Bunyan

Liam Steel directs a new production of Britten's rarely-seen first stage work, a beguiling evocation of America.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Paul Bunyan. It was last on stage 17–21 February 2014 as part of the Winter 2013/14 season.


In W.H. Auden's witty reworking of American mythology a folksinger narrates the legend of the giant Paul Bunyan, as he builds a lumber farm and guides his homesick foreman, petulant book-keeper and good-hearted cook to happiness.


Paul Bunyan was Britten's first work for the stage. He and librettist W.H. Auden created the piece during their time in America, and sought to capture the spirit of the booming, forward-looking country around them – with as much affection as irreverence. Auden's lyrical, subtle satire interweaves with a score that sees the young Britten at his most playful and inventive: folk, blues and Broadway are incorporated into a musical language that remains distinctively his.

Award-winning director and choreographer Liam Steel has developed an original production of this enchanting work, replete with a quartet of cheerful Swedish lumberjacks, singing trees and geese, bad cooks, good cooks and a mischievous pair of cats.

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