Festivals: Small Gem

Slowly, solemnly, a procession of cowled monks and acolytes filed through the cloisters, chanting "Te lucis ante terminum." They entered a Spanish Renaissance courtyard and mounted a small stage shaded by a red-and-white-striped awning. "Good souls," the abbot sang, "the brothers have come today to show you a mystery."

So, in fittingly reverent fashion, began the U.S. premiere last week of Benjamin Britten's Curlew River at the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, N.Y. Styled as "a parable for church performance," the hour-long piece is based on a medieval No drama, Sumidagawa. It is a simple tale of a demented mother in...

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