The Soldier’s Tale 13 November 2022: Sunday on BBC Four

The Soldier's Tale 13 November 2022: Sunday on BBC Four 11

A vibrant and bold new take on The Soldier’s Tale, Stravinsky’s dark masterpiece of music theatre about a soldier who trades his soul to the devil in return for untold riches. Shot in contemporary Manchester to underline the work’s universal themes, this powerful film embraces a rich mix of locations: out along the city’s waterways, up among the skyline of an industrial car park, in hidden passages and pubs, under the stage of Bridgewater Hall for a devilish game of cards, and on stage where the musicians of the Hallé, directed by Sir Mark Elder, form a central part of the action.

A work devised to be ‘read, played and danced’, it is set to some of Stravinsky’s most entertaining and affecting music.

Stravinsky created The Soldier’s Tale in 1918 in Switzerland, isolated in the middle of a Europe at war. The artists worked in improvised, under-funded circumstances. Stravinsky was cut off from any source of income, so he collaborated with Swiss writer Charles Ferdinand Ramuz and a group of local friends to make a small-scale work that they could tour easily. It was an experiment in form and a huge and brilliant departure from large-scale composition. The first tour was cancelled because of the 1918–19 Spanish flu pandemic, but subsequently the piece became one of the most enduringly popular of Stravinsky’s works.

This production features a new English translation by Jeremy Sams.

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This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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