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Music Text

Libretto by David Harsent (E)



Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Britten Studio, Aldeburgh
Peter Gill, dir / Elizabeth Atherton, sop / Mark Padmore, ten
Conductor: Ryan Wigglesworth
Company: London Sinfonietta


Orpheus has gone down to the Halls of the Dead to bring his bride, Eurydice, back to the world of the living. He is leading her along a corridor, singing to guide her. As they near the light, he looks round, wondering why she isn't beside him. In looking back, he has betrayed his pact with the Gods of the Underworld. Everything stops. Eurydice is drawn inexorably back to the Land of the Dead. Orpheus begins a lament. Eurydice sings as she moves further away from life and from Orpheus. From time to time, 'Eurydice' steps out of character to comment on the action, holding a dialogue with The Shades. Orpheus continues his lament and, as he finally utters the name 'Eurydice', she begins to disappear, lost to him forever.

© David Harsent

Press Quotes

The Corridor deals with a single moment, when Orpheus, leading Eurydice out of the underworld, turns around to look at her, and so loses her forever. Birtwistle and Harsent explode the moment of that glance into a series of arias that crystallise the characters’ situations and the separateness of their emotional worlds."
The Guardian

"The music of Eurydice grows slower and slower like an unwinding clock as she retreats ever deeper into the “corridor” of Hell, further than ever from the lamenting Orpheus. As a half-speaking narrator, she puts questions to the players who answer in anguished, rhapsodic music, as lyrical as anything Birtwistle has attempted.”
The Observer

“…a movingly lyrical lament for loss of love.”
Sunday Times


Poetic, Tragic



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