ILLUMINATIONS, one of the Aldeburgh Festival 2016 commissions


In the summer of 2016, the Snape Maltings Concert Hall was transformed into a circus big top for Illuminations, as part of Aldeburgh Festival 2016.

Inspired by the hyper-sensual surrealism of Rimbaud’s poetry set in Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations, director Struan Leslie created a newly-commissioned staging fusing music and contemporary circus performance.

‘I have long wanted to create a theatre work with this music’, said Leslie. ‘Now I have found the means to do it. Theatre or dance were always too limited a vocabulary to convey this vivid world. Circus is the key to unlock it.’

Britten’s voluptuous musical settings took flight on the back of Rimbaud’s extraordinarily evocative verse, a spectacle of extremes, a world of febrile fantasy, a parade of grotesques and lurid, erotic imagery.

For this new work soprano Sarah Tynan joined an ensemble of international circus performers and Aurora Orchestra in a programme that included Britten’s Les Illuminations and Young Apollo, Debussy’s String Quartet and music from John Adams’ Shaker Loops.

Find out more about Aldeburgh Festival at Aldeburgh Music.

Plan a trip to Snape Maltings, and explore the rest of the area with The Suffolk Coast.