thu 18/04/2024

Henze attends his own Elegy | reviews, news & interviews

Henze attends his own Elegy

Henze attends his own Elegy

Henze attends his own Elegy

Hans Werner Henze surrounded by the cast of 'Elegy for Young Lovers', with conductor Stefan Blunier and director Fiona Shaw in the foregroundChris Christodoulou

Many of us younger opera-goers have never had a chance until now to see Hans Werner Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers in action.

Opinions have been divided on its status as one of the great operas of the last half-century, but it certainly brought out the composers: the night I went, both Thomas Adès and Mark-Anthony Turnage were in the audience, and at Saturday's final performance the 83-year-old composer was there for what must surely be the most perfectly co-ordinated, visually beautiful production he could ever hope to see.

After an evening of Birtwistle's The Minotaur, a venerable old friend of mine had the temerity to ask Henze, also present, what he thought. "Very competent," came the reply, "and extremely well performed". Which might be about the measure of it in that instance. Now I've just received a statement fresh from the master following Saturday night's Elegy: "I was very happy with the production, which I found fresh and beautifully detailed.  Fiona understands this piece and I loved getting to know her. The cast were marvellous and the orchestra under Stefan Blunier played wonderfully." Amen to that. The only shame is that the BBC weren't on hand to film it or to broadcast it on Radio 3.

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