Curlew River

Music and Opera

About the Production

The first of librettist William Plomer’s “Parables for Church Performance,” Curlew River is composed by Benjamin Britten and based on the Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa by Juro Motosama. Incorporating elements of Noh theater & time and the storytelling of Christian parables, Curlew River is about a woman turned mad with the loss of her child recounting her story to a ferryman and other characters who help her discover and mourn his grave across the river. Directed by Ping Chong for Spoleto Festival, there is more emphasis on Curlew’s Noh theater foundation and bringing an East/West convergence that best represents the work’s universal theme of human loss and sorrow.

Production Team And Cast

Directed by

Ping Chong

Music Direction

Joseph Flummerfelt

Set Design

Paul Weimer

Lighting Design

John McLain

Costume Design

Stefani Mar


Peter Kazaras, Perry Ward, Steven Mortier, Rodney Briscoe, Josh Strickland

Performance History


Spoleto Festival U.S.A., Charleston, N.C. (May-June 1997)