sat 04/04/2020

Phaedra, Barbican | reviews, news & interviews

Phaedra, Barbican

Phaedra, Barbican

An overly clean, efficient and, at times, vulgar, take from Henze on this lusty old story

In 2005, having completed the first act of his opera Phaedra and killed off his lead Hippolyte, Hans Werner Henze contracted a mystery illness. No one understood it or saw a way out of it. He stopped eating, then speaking. His eyes began to fail him. He fell into a coma. The musical world began to fly out to his Italian village outside Rome to pay their last respects and prepare for his funeral. Then, two inert months into the grief and the start of the obsequies, Henze "just stood up", and went back to work on the second act of Phaedra, in which Hippolyte returns from the dead.

In 2005, having completed the first act of his opera Phaedra and killed off his lead Hippolyte, Hans Werner Henze contracted a mystery illness. No one understood it or saw a way out of it. He stopped eating, then speaking. His eyes began to fail him. He fell into a coma. The musical world began to fly out to his Italian village outside Rome to pay their last respects and prepare for his funeral. Then, two inert months into the grief and the start of the obsequies, Henze "just stood up", and went back to work on the second act of Phaedra, in which Hippolyte returns from the dead.

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