Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Britten: A Century after His Death, the Music of Gay Composer Benjamin Britten Is Very Much Alive

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Britten: A Century after His Death, the Music of Gay Composer Benjamin Britten Is Very Much Alive

Article excerpt

THIS YEAR MARKS the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, one of the most influential classical composers of the past century. The gay composer's works are being performed around the world to honor his centenary, and the upcoming performance of his opera Curlew River is a highlight of the year. Though his name may not be familiar to contemporary pop culture devotees, Britten's compositions, which also include many symphonic works, are actually sought after by Hollywood and used in a variety of movies and television series, including last year's Moonrise Kingdom.

Jacaranda, a music troupe based in Santa Monica, Calif., celebrates Britten with an April 27 performance of his renowned opera Curlew River. Patrick Scott, Jacaranda's artistic and executive director, and Mark Alan Hilt, the music director--who are also life partners--thought it was fitting to stage Curlew River in the group's theater space, a remodeled church, since the opera is so deeply rooted in religion.

"Curlew River was composed to be performed in a church by four male opera singers, a boy soprano, a seven-member instrumental ensemble, and a chorus of eight men," says Scott. "Curlew River is in the top tier of Britten's finest and most powerful operas, yet it is rarely heard and we can find no record of a previous performance in L.A."

The original 1963 production of Curlew River had an all-male cast, and Scott and Hilt have not only followed that example, they have drawn the players from the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.

"We have admired the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles for many years and know that there is a core of highly trained singers within the ranks who hunger for the challenge of interesting classical music," Scott says of the casting. …

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