BJ. William Plomer

21. The Prodigal Son: Third Parable for Church Performance. Music by Benjamin Britten. London: Faber Music, 1968. Reprint, 1986. Sound recording, London: Decca, 1970.

Plomer and Britten’s third ‘church drama’ relies on the same conventions adapted from the nô as the first, Curlew River (18), though like the second, The Burning Fiery Furnace (19), draws its subject from Biblical rather than Japanese sources. Plomer’s notes to the Faber Music edition remind that ‘like Christianity itself’ the three ‘church operas’ are ‘ultimately of Asian derivation’, as ‘plot and production make . . . plain’, and even ‘the music itself has not been uninfluenced by the composer’s travels in Asia’. First performed at the Church of Orford at the Aldeburgh Festival, June 1968.





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