Composers: Britten-san

During a tour of Tokyo eight years ago, Composer Benjamin Britten was introduced to "a totally new operatic experience"—a Japanese No drama. Fascinated by the stark economy of style and the eerie mixtures of guttural chants, drums and flute, Britten decided that it might be interesting to give an English background to the simple tale of Sumida-gawa— a demented mother seeking her lost child.

Britten finally brought East and West together last week in a 14th century Norman church near his home in Aldeburgh, a tiny (pop. 3,000) fishing village on the...

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