Gawain will replace unfinished Kurtág opera.
One of the most keenly-anticipated opera premieres of recent times is to be postponed. György Kurtág’s first ever opera, based on Beckett’s Endgame, will not be ready in time for its planned première at next year’s Salzburg Festival. Instead, the festival will stage a production of Harrison Birtwistle’s Gawain.
Although the postponement of Kurtág’s new work will come as a disappointment to fans of new opera, the opportunity to see Birtwistle’s rarely performed work will be welcomed by many. To date, Gawain has only been staged by the Royal Opera, who commissioned it. The premiere was given there in 1991, after which Birtwistle revised the score, and the new version was performed at Covent Garden in 1994 and 2000. A commercial recording was made of the 1994 production, but the opera has never been filmed, something that the Salzburg version may be able to remedy.