The world première of Krishna: June 2024

This morning we announce the world première of Krishna, Sir John Tavener’s final opera.

Tavener (1944–2013) was one of the most acclaimed British composers of the post-war years. At 24, he was described by The Guardian as “the musical discovery of the year”. The Times called him “among the very best creative talents of his generation.”

Krishna was completed in 2005. In 2024 it will be given its world premiere at Grange Park Opera’s Theatre in the Woods, directed by opera-giant Sir David Pountney.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, a long-time admirer of Tavener’s work, asked Sir David to consider the opera, after the work had been brought to the Prince’s attention by Sir John’s widow.

Explaining his friendship with the composer, The Prince of Wales pointed out that the two of them “share views on the importance of all religious traditions”.

Krishna with Gopis by Narendra Kumar

In 15 vignettes a Celestial Narrator delivers the cycle of Krishna’s life: he is born when the earth is crying for help; he is assumed into Paradise until the earth needs him again. The text, by Tavener, expounds a Blakean philosophy that in any part of the universe is the whole universe.

Tavener explained “The Narrator describes each scene in the simplest possible way. He moves freely in the audience, explaining the double meaning, charming, frightening and consoling us. The music is intensely vivid and highly dramatic”

There are challenging aspects to the work’s staging: Krishna is given a ‘halo’ of eight flutes (four of them alto flutes) which are to be “aerially positioned”.

Sir John Tavener
Sir David Pountney CBE

David Pountney suggested the project to Grange Park Opera CEO & Founder Wasfi Kani in October 2019. There was no holding her back: “Within two days I was at Chester Music examining the 358 giant sheets of Tavener’s manuscript. It quickly became clear this was a masterpiece that needed to be brought to life. We are now actively searching for collaborators to give premières in Europe and, of course, in India. The search for Indian philanthropists begins”.