Click here to return to front page

'Manifest Destiny'

Fringe 2005 Reviews

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

Drams:  None required.
Reviewer:  Alex Eades.

I've always tried to avoid reviewing musicals because, well, to be perfectly honest I pretty much detest them. So, the musical section of the Fringe magazine was not really something I paid much attention to on the run up to the festival. As you all well know, we all have to do things we'd rather not sometimes and I found myself going to see an opera called Manifest Destiny, recommended to me for its look at the war on terrorism and American global power. I decided to go. I got my ticket, took a deep breath and took the plunge. I have to say, seeing Manifest Destiny was one of the best decisions I have ever made.


  " Political, prescient and unmissable " - Sunday Telegraph, Aug 7th 05

" rigorous and high minded with a story in the environs of Greek tragedy "

"one admires Keith Burstein's ambition "- Daily Telegraph, Aug 10th 05

"fine performances from Bernadette Lord and Paul Carey Jones " - Scotsman, Aug 9th 05

"Peter Willcock... played with a comedy glee" - BBC Online, Aug 05


  British Theatre Guide
Fringe 2005 Reviews

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

Much has been written about Manifest Destiny's subject matter (the War on Terror) and Keith Burnstein's music (more melodic than most modern opera), and it is fitting that this should be so, for it is right that opera should take on such subjects.

Director David Wybrow has opted for a minimalist staging. On the high St George's stage - no sightline problems that can bedevil some Fringe venues here! - sits a piano at stage right where Daniel is first discovered as the play opens, soon to be replaced by composer/accompanist Keith Burstein. This might be thought of as simply a convenience, as Fringe venues are not noted for having orchestra pits, but it is more than that, for it enables the recovering Daniel to place his score (with Leila's libretto) alongside the closed score of the opera at the very end - a very telling moment.

Political opera is a very rare bird, even today, and this piece is one to be cherished.



“Critic’s Choice” for 2005 Edinburgh Festival in the following newspapers:

 ‘The Independent’ (five top classical music events to see in Edinburgh )

 ‘The Times’ (five top classical music events to see in Edinburgh )

 ‘The Observer’

 ‘The Scotsman’

 ‘The Daily Telegraph’

 ‘The Sunday Telegraph’


  August 16th 2005 Scotsman.
Are the London Bombings our Manifest Destiny?

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

We are living in extraordinary times. The very structures and value systems of our society are being challenged and shaken by events. What is freedom? Where does civil liberty end and security begin? Who - and what - are we as a nation?

  August 14th 2005 Scotland on Sunday
Love calls the tune in a world of terror

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

An opera about a suicide bomber cell may not sound like most people's idea of a good night out, but Manifest Destiny, a 90-minute piece by composer Keith Burstein, is affecting, potent and, perhaps most importantly of all, packed with melodic invention. Anyone expecting to be browbeaten with the "plink plonks" favoured by all too many contemporary composers is in for a pleasant surprise.

July 24th 2005 Observer.
Singalonga controversy 

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

The most controversial musical production will undoubtedly be Manifest Destiny. A contemporary opera for four voices and piano, written by Keith Burstein and librettist Dic Edwards, it critiques the ongoing war on terror.

'Our starting point was: where do suicide bombers come from?' says Edwards. 'They don't just drop from the sky. This whole thing goes back way before 9/11; the jihad began in Afghanistan with the Russian invasion and then it was carried on with the Americans in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. To say they are mindless people is not addressing the problem. To be a suicide bomber is an act of despair; there's nothing more useless or hopeless.'

A shorter version of the opera was performed at the Tricycle Theatre in 2002, but the creators had no idea how prescient it would be about the torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib. Burstein believes opera should reflect urgent contemporary events. '9/11 is a centre of gravity that pulls other topics towards greater seriousness. The musical is a populist idiom, so it lends itself more readily than a form like opera. On the other hand, anyone in musicals who thinks, "we're just about fun and entertainment" needs to change. We are all coming together, as a confluence of people, to process what we are living through.'


June 10th 2005 Scotsman.
Theatre (and Rolf Harris) take centre-stage

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

Theatre and spectacle are back in strength for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe , in a year when stand up comedy may be taking a back seat.

Mr Gudgin , director of the Fringe said yesterday that the war on terror was "shouting out" as a thread running through this year's Fringe. Manifest Destiny is a new opera set in the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay , described as "an al Qaeda love story" charting the relationship between a Jewish composer and a Palestinian writer. The opera , which won strong reviews in a London run , includes the US President , and the Head of the CIA as characters. '

Fringe puts on a record show.

The Fringe is no longer a mere 'add on' to the official repertoire , nor does it lack quality. Instead it has become the world's laboratory for the performing arts. Long may it continue in that role.


June 12th 2005 Sunday Times
Ecosse: The Fringe of Greatness.

Extracts from the article are shown below click here for the full review.

Lurking among the 16,191 artistes signed in for this years Edinburgh Fringe could be ' the next big thing '...... Manifest Destiny performed by Daniel X Opera has already enjoyed sensational reviews;a successful Edinburgh run could mark the show down as a sure fire commercial success

MY OPERA FROM HELL: When Keith Bernstein set out to write an opera about torture at Guantanamo, he had no idea how prescient the work would be.

The Guardian - click here for the full article


Arts Preview - The voices of Guantanamo.

The Independant - click here for the full article


An opera that breaks new ground with its sympathetic portrayal of Muslim radicals has begun a run in London.

Reuters - click here for the full article


The usually serene world of British opera is to break radical new ground with a tale of Muslim radicals aimed at showing the human side of terror.

Reuters - click here for the full article


Al-Qaeda love story ends in Camp X-Ray as composers use music to explore global nightmare

Observer - click here for the full article


'My opera anticipated reality'

Sud Deutsche Zeitung (South German Times) - click here for the full article



[keith burstein]  [manifest destiny]

All music is copyright 1989-2011 by Keith Burstein and may not be used for commercial purposes without the author's consent.

Web design by indieway design