A bored King Arthur, wishing for adventure at court. The sudden appearance of a mysterious knight, glowing green in the night. He issues a challenge: You can cut off my head today, but in a year I get to cut off your head. Only one man accepts the challenge: Gawain. He easily slices the Green Knight's head off with one swing of his axe. But does he really understand the deal he's made?
This is the premise behind what some consider to be Harrison Birtwistle's greatest opera, Gawain. This week on the Brothers Balliett, we begin a three-part series in which we listen to this masterpiece; a work that combines masterful storytelling with brilliant orchestration, athletic vocal lines, and jagged grooves. On the docket this Thursday at 3PM is Act I, in which we see the ghostly Green Knight get beheaded. Tune in and check out this bizarre and wonderful opera.