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date: 22 November 2019

Devils of Loudun, Thelocked

  • Adrian Thomas

Extract

Opera in three acts by Krzysztof Penderecki to a libretto by the composer after John Whiting’ s dramatization of Aldous Huxley’s novel The Devils of Loudun, based on Erich Fried’s German translation of the play; Hamburg, Staatsoper, 20 June 1969.

The Devils of Loudun is Penderecki’s first and most popular opera and has had many new productions in Europe and the USA. The subject not only inspired Huxley and Whiting but also spawned Ken Russell’s film The Devils. With its unabashed exploration of lust, blasphemy, exorcism and religious persecution, it fitted Penderecki’s taste for vivid musical and dramatic extremes. Moreover, in two large-scale choral works – the St Luke Passion (1963–6) and Dies irae (1967), written in memory of those murdered at Auschwitz – he had recently developed both his musical language and his control of extended structures.

The principal story draws on contemporary accounts of the trial of Father Grandier in ...

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