Opera Scotland

Abraham and Isaac

Music

Benjamin Britten (Born Lowestoft, 22 November 1913; died Aldeburgh, 4 December 1976).

Text

Anon medieval.

Source

Episode 4 from the Chester Miracle Plays.

 

Premieres

First Performance: 1952.

First Performance in Scotland: 1952.

 

Background

Abraham and Isaac, Op51, is the second of five Canticles composed by Britten at various times between 1947 and 1974. The texts include work by Edith Sitwell and T S Eliot. They have in common the chamber-music scale and a concentrated intimacy of dramatic presentation. The second Canticle, composed soon after the completion of Billy Budd, was dedicated to the iconic contralto Kathleen Ferrier, who created the role of Isaac, with Peter Pears as Abraham. It was played, with Britten himself as pianist, as a medium for raising funds for the English Opera Group. In 1952 they gave it widely. In later years, Britten performed the piece with a treble as Isaac, and more recently it has become common for the part to be taken by a counter-tenor.

 

Characters

Abraham (tenor)

Isaac, his son (alto)

The Cast

Abraham
 
Isaac
 Abraham's son

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