Ustinov Studio

Phaedra & Minotaur

  • August 2022
Phaedra & Minotaur

Event Information

Ustinov Studio, August 2022

Benjamin Britten’s cantata Phaedra was written in 1975 for mezzo soprano Janet Baker. It was to be Britten’s last vocal work. Whilst often performed in concert, stagings of this intense and erotic work are still rare..

Following the success of Deborah Warner’s production at the Royal Opera House in 2020, music director Richard Hetherington and Olivier award nominee Christine Rice will re-imagine the piece in a piano version, specially developed for the intimate spaces of the Ustinov Studio.

On the day of her wedding to Theseus, Phaedra catches sight of his young son Hippolytus. She falls instantly in love. Consumed by lust and a longing for a love she knows cannot be requited, death will be her only escape. The scalding power of Britten’s score pushes Phaedra towards her doom in a remarkable and thrilling drama.

Christine Rice is one of the leading British singers of her generation, a regular performer at the major European opera houses, including Royal Opera House, Zurich, Glyndebourne, Madrid, Salzburg Festival, The Met, Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin and English National Opera

★ ★ ★ ★ “Performances are terrific. Rice’s Phaedra is powerhouse stuff”, Richard Hetherington urgently propelling Britten’s score forward” Guardian

The second part of the evening features the world premiere of a newly commissioned dance piece, Minotaur, choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Kim Brandstrup, renowned for his work over four decades with The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, English National Ballet and Rambert. Often depicted as a creature of great masculine power and invincible strength, the Minotaur is also a creature trapped, isolated and abandoned. The Greek hero’s journey into the labyrinth is a confrontation with this ambiguous world of masculinity. Ariadne – the sister of Phaedra – stands by the entrance to the maze. She wheels out the thread that will secure – hopefully – a safe return.

Ustinov Studio, August 2022

Cast: Royal Ballet’s Kristen McNally and Jonathan Goddard.

PHAEDRA by Benjamin Britten
Sung by Christine Rice

MINOTAUR by Kim Brandstrup

Director (PHAEDRA) Deborah Warner
Choreographer (MINOTAUR) Kim Brandstrup
Lighting Designer Jean Kalman