Sir Harrison Birtwistle (b.1934)

The Last Supper

Birtwistle’s opera, to a libretto by Robin Blaser, was composed in 1998-99 and first performed on 18th April 2000 by the Berlin State Opera, conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Vision I - The Crucifixion has Christ quoting from Traherne’s Thanksgivings for the Body (lines 537-546).

I give thee Thanks for the Being thou givest unto
the Heavens, Sun, Moon, Stars, and Elements; to Beasts, Plants, and
all other Bodies of the Earth; to the Fowls of the Air, the Fishes of the
Sea.I give thee thanks for the beauty of Colours, for the harmony of
Sounds, for the pleasantness of Odours, for the sweetness of Meats, for
the warmth and softness of our Raiment, and for all my five senses, and
all the Pores of my Body, so curiously made as before recited, and for the
Preservation as well as Use of all my limbs and Senses, in keeping me
from Precipices, Fractures, and Dislocations in my Body, from a dis-
tracted, discomposed, confused, discontented Spirit.