Monday, March 24, 2003


There is an air of eerie presience, perhaps, to the fact that -- at just such a moment in history as this -- acclaimed Danish composer Poul Rouders' opera, 'The Handmaid's Tale', utilising a libretto by Paul Bentley based directly on Margaret Atwood's classic dystopian novel, receives its UK premiere at the English National Opera on 3 April. It then runs on 5, 9, 11, 14 and 25 April and 2 May 2003. Full production details are here. A free sampler CD is available for those who register. There are also sound clips. A full synopsis will follow shortly. The production was created and given by the Danish Royal Opera Company in 2000. The story concerns the fate of American society under a repressive religious theocracy. Atwood wrote of the experience of seeing her work turned into an opera in Saturday's Guardian. Her book has already appeared as a film and has been translated into 35 languages. She comments on its central theme:

"The inclination towards tyranny, the wielding of absolute power by the few over the many, knows no ideological boundaries and is not confined to one time or space. I never trust anyone who says: "It can't happen here." Otherwise ethical people will commit the most serious injuries as long as they believe they are doing their "duty" - committing these injuries in a good cause. Lenin was not alone in believing that the end justifies the means: lots of people believe it, or act as if they do. It takes bravery of a different sort to maintain that the means defines the end: risk it during a time of high group stress and you're likely to be called naive, or a traitor." (c) Margaret Atwood, 2003.

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