opera set to storm the theatre world
that is about to change. The British composer Keith Burstein is writing a
new work to be performed in
whose work commemorating the Holocaust was broadcast by the BBC on
Holocaust Day, has collaborated on the new opera with playwright Dic
Edwards and the early results have already won interest from the acclaimed
Broomhill Opera Company, based near
the opera's content is highly controversial - with a cast of characters
including the President of the United States and the head of the CIA, as
well as the cell of bombers - the composer points out that he is not the
only contemporary musician to have been drawn to the powerful subject of
Middle Eastern terrorism in recent years.
Adams's opera The Death of Klinghoffer, to be broadcast on Channel 4
tonight, was first produced at the end of the 1991 Gulf war and tackles
the hijacking of the cruise liner Achille Lauro in 1985. Leon Klinghoffer
was the name of the wheelchair-bound victim who was selected for execution
by the Palestinian hijackers.
don't think it is any coincidence that two composers, who are both
interested in communicating as widely as possible through music, have
turned to this difficult area,' said Burstein. 'I wanted to look at the
emotions that drive people to these kind of deadly actions. It is usually
because they themselves fear some sort of perceived deadly or threatening
action against themselves.'
who first came to public attention due to his strong opposition to the
rise of atonal contemporary music, believes that tunes and harmonies
remain the key to reaching audiences.
years ago Burstein was at the centre of a cause célèbre when he won £8,000
in legal damages after an article in the Times accused him of organising a
gang of hecklers to 'wreck' concert performances featuring the kind of
modern music he disliked.
intention in this new opera is to realise the emotional life within the
bombers' minds and reveal a view of the world beyond our own Western
perspectives,' said Burstein. 'The characters are
"emotionalised" and therefore humanised.'
Destiny began its creative life six months ago when Burstein asked Edwards
to write a libretto. The title of the work refers to the
nineteenth-century American policy used to justify conquering the lands of
the Native American tribes. With gold as the spur then, rather than the
contemporary inducement of oil, Burstein and Edwards argue that the same
justifications were used to push the ideology of the 'white man' through
new boundaries and into new territories.
stresses that the opera is not intended as propaganda but is an attempt to
show the motivation of suicide killers. 'We are trying to make the story
human. They are real people after all, who feel pushed into extreme
actions,' he said.
work will first be performed in a concert version with a piano
accompaniment. Burstein was also involved in the creation of Stewart Lee
and Richard Thomas's National Theatre hit, Jerry Springer: The Opera,
developed from a similar, small-scale production, and last summer Lee
directed an earlier Burstein work, The Furthering, at The Battersea Arts
Centre in south
work is musically very arresting,' said David Wybrow, director of the
Cockpit Theatre. 'And I am very pleased to be putting on Manifest Destiny
for the first time this autumn.'
heroine of the new opera is Leila, an educated poet who is propelled back
into the fundamentalist world after the killing of her father in
have gradually realised that the story, as so often in opera, turns upon
the redemptive power of love,' said Burstein, who studied at the Royal
College of Music and set up his own chamber ensemble.
more startling circumstance could there be for its discovery than the
extremis of Camp X-Ray, where the captured poet turned bomber sees that
all that is left is her love for her Jewish partner?'
Cockpit Theatre 020 7258 2920