Marlboro College

NewsPress Release - September 7, 2000Marlboro Presents "The Five Canticles of Benjamin Britten"

MARLBORO, VT - "The Five Canticles of Benjamin Britten" will be presented at 3 p.m. September 17 in Marlboro College's Whittemore Theater. Performers include Marlboro College chorus instructor Susan Klein playing piano, plus several artists/instructors from the Five-College area of Western Massachusetts: Peter Shea and James Ruff singing tenor, Catherine Bowers singing alto, Marisa Michelson singing soprano, Jean Jeffries playing horn, and Vivienne Carey reading.

The canticles, miniature cantatas on a wide variety of religious or spiritual subjects, are counted among the finest and most moving of Britten's output. He treats the texts of all five pieces with great sensitivity and effectiveness, using various pieces of European literature as their base.

Canticle I, "My Beloved Is Mine," uses Francis Quarles 17th century poem "A Divine Rapture" to express divine love through the metaphor of physical love. Canticle II, "Abraham and Isaac," takes its origins from a highly dramatic version of the biblical story as shown in the text of a medieval miracle play.

Edith Sitwell's "The Canticle of the Rose," an allegory of Christ's passion, is the basis for Canticle III, "Still Falls the Rain." Canticles IV and V are each based on poems by T. S. Eliot. "The Journey of the Magi" presents the difficult physical and spiritual journey of the Three Kings as they travel to Bethlehem.

Britten composed the final canticle, "The Death of Narcissus," while he himself was suffering from heart disease. Britten died in 1976, after being made a life peer in England.

The Whittemore Theater is fully accessible. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call (802) 257-4333.

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