War Requiem, Benjamin Britten, under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado


Thursday and Saturday this week, he Teatro Real will offer the moving War Requiem, from Benjamin Britten, under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado.

The two functions of Britten's work are integrated into programming around his opera Death in Venice, It will also bring to the Royal Theater, this month, Hamburg Ballet, with a choreography inspired by the novel by Thomas Mann.

More of 140 interpreters participate in the work: 132 -Chorus singers of the three choirs Holder Royal Theater, Choir of the Community of Madrid and Little Singers of JORCAM-, 106 Titular Orchestra musicians of the Royal Theater, organist Miguel Ángel Tallante Susan Gritton and soloists (soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor) and Jacques Imbrailo (baritone).

Pablo Heras-Casado, first musical guest conductor of the Teatro Real, It will be responsible for leading this exceptional and poignant work: He snatched a cry for peace in the world after the war stupor.


Benjamin Britten was a great lover of classical forms but, after passing through their hands, rarely he failed to introduce new elements in them that made them appear before the eyes and ears subtly or radically rejuvenated. Few genres have enjoyed more rooted in Western music than the requiem mass, but the War Requiem, Drinking that undeniably secular tradition, transports it to a new dimension, instilling in the work an important element spatio it difficult, if not impossible, found in other requiem masses.

Britten was a persistent reader of poetry, that permeates much of its catalog, and had a good example of this in this room last 18 from December, when Ian Bostridge played five Canticles which run through his entire career and creatively Nocturne.

One of the poets who inspired Britten in the latter work, su compatriota Wilfred Owen, He was elected three years later to provide the profane counterpoint, Current and intimate of the ancient Latin text of the Mass for the Dead. Owen had died a few days before the end of the First World War and the play opened at the solemn consecration of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by German bombing in.

The War Requiem was released a few months before the missile crisis in Cuba, during the War Cold, so, a contest third linked to the work: less bloody, but equally absurd. Britten wanted to tell the premiere in Coventry with singers who symbolically represent the three countries that had suffered the barbaric war had ended the Nazi horror, but the Soviet authorities did not allow Galina Vishnévskaia traveled to England to sing a German side, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, so it had to be replaced in extremis by British Heather Harper. The solo trio completed, Of course, el tenor Peter Pears, the faithful partner of the composer.

Pacifist convinced, Britten's War Requiem conceived not only as a deeply anti-war plea, but as a profound reflection on the horrors that accompany any war: Mass to rest the dead and the living meditate. La cima emocional de la obra se reserva para el Libera me final, en cuyo centro Britten sitúa uno de los poemas más estremecedores de Owen, «Strange Meeting», el extraño encuentro que se produce bajo tierra, en «un túnel hondo y gris», entre un soldado inglés y un combatiente alemán al que él mismo ha matado el día anterior. Ambos encuentran la liberación y reconciliación final cuando se disponen a dormir, juntos y en paz, el largo sueño de la muerte mientras el coro de niños entona un etéreo y consolador In Paradisum.

Las guerras continúan, implacables, a nuestro alrededor, pero el War Requiem –una obra no sólo para escuchar, sino también para ver– sigue proclamando, claro y fuerte, su mensaje.
Luis Gago

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