U.K.-Taiwan production of Britten's 'War Requiem' to open in Kaohsiung

02/25/2020 10:13 PM
(Photo courtesy of the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts)
(Photo courtesy of the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts)

Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) A co-production of Benjamin Britten's pacifist choral classic "War Requiem" by the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts and the English National Opera (ENO) will premiere in Kaohsiung Friday, in the first of two scheduled performances.

The 1962 work, which weaves together the Latin Mass for the Dead with verses by English poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed in France during World War I, will be conducted by the center's artistic director Chien Wen-pin (簡文彬) and staged by former ENO artistic director Daniel Kramer.

According to the center, the performance will feature soprano Chen Mei-lin (陳美玲), tenor Joshua Owen Mills and baritone Martin Ng (吳翰衛) in solo roles, accompanied by the full National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Taipei Philharmonic Chorus and a children's chorus, the Century Voice Choir.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Chien called the work an artistic exploration of humanist, universal values, and said it gives voice to people's sense of helplessness and confusion in the face of war.

The fact that the site of National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts was formerly used as a military training ground, and Friday's performance will coincide with Taiwan's Feb. 28 Peace Memorial Day, gives the production an added layer of meaning, he said.

The work of a lifelong pacifist and conscientious objector during World War II, Britten's "War Requiem" was commissioned for the 1962 consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, which was rebuilt after the original 14th-century structure was destroyed during a German air raid in 1940.

The production will be presented in the Latin and English original, with Mandarin and English subtitles and a running time of 90 minutes.

Performances of "War Requiem" will take place Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets, which range from NT$300 (US$9.87) to NT$4800, are available on the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts website.

(By Cheng Chi-feng and Matthew Mazzetta)

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