King's College London

Research portal

Confronting Opera in the 1960s: Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-204
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of the Royal Musical Association
Issue number1
Early online date8 May 2017
Accepted/In press31 Jul 2016
E-pub ahead of print8 May 2017
Published1 Jan 2020


King's Authors


Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy arrived at a crucial moment for new opera. It premièred in 1968 at the Aldeburgh Festival, the home of a vision of British opera that Punch and Judy seemed actively to confront. However, Punch and Judy also engaged closely with operatic traditions and institutions, and while its Aldeburgh première is remembered as a scandalous provocation, a closer look at this event suggests that the opera was welcomed as a subtle intervention into the British operatic scene rather than a repudiation of it. The opera itself, moreover, performs a similar sense of revolt as inseparable from tradition, of individuality as inseparable from institutions and audiences, and of the supports for artistic production as necessarily also constraints.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454