Extraordinary theatrical production of War Requiem marks centenary of WWI’s end
Bruno Wang Productions and The Pureland Foundation are honoured to support Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, produced by English National Opera.
This extraordinary production marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War – and represents the first full theatrical staging of War Requiem in the UK.
It is also Turner Prize-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’ first operatic commission. He collaborated with ENO artistic director Daniel Kramer to design a set that plays with light and large-scale images to create mesmerising visual poetry.
The designer’s ambition was to offer up “a meditation on the themes of war and the repetitive cycle of war and the repetitive cycle of loss”.
In a dramatic opening, pages from one of the most important anti-war books of the 20th century are projected on stage. War Against War is a collection of increasingly horrific photographs from the First World War by German pacifist Ernst Friedrich. His ironic captions mock the idea of the glory of war.
Britten takes nine poems by First World War poet Wilfred Owen and intersperses them with extracts from church liturgy and the Latin Mass for the Dead. What Owen calls “the pity of war” clashes with the cry of the 120-strong chorus: “Lord, grant them eternal rest”. The effect is shattering.
The production has garnered outstanding reviews: one is “in the presence of something very great indeed” and “visually mesmerising”.
It is a deliberately disquieting experience “lest we forget”.