Watch on demand: Elgar’s Enigma Variations


Sir John Eliot Gardiner – conductor

Alice Coote – mezzo-soprano


TIPPETT Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli


ELGAR Enigma Variations



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It’s rare for John Eliot Gardiner to conduct the work of British 19th– and 20th-century composers. But it’s precisely his expertise in the music of the Baroque era that makes him an insightful pilot through this fascinating programme.

Michael Tippett’s Fantasia was composed to mark the 300th anniversary of Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli. In Tippett’s skilled and respectful hands, a movement from a typical Corelli Concerto Grosso, with its contrast between a small group of string players and the whole ensemble, is transmuted into a work of timeless, lyrical radiance.

Greek myth, seen through the prism of Baroque theatre, provides the raw material for Benjamin Britten’s ‘dramatic cantata’ Phaedra. This exploration of forbidden desire – Phaedra’s deadly infatuation with her stepson Hippolytus – compresses all the emotional intensity of an opera into a fifteen-minute span. Alice Coote, ‘the superlative British mezzo’ (San Francisco Chronicle), sings the title role.

Variations on a theme have been around since the Baroque era too, but most composers begin by stating their theme clearly. Not so Elgar, who has kept us guessing at his ‘Enigma’ for over a century. His memorable musical portraits of his wife, colleagues and friends – and in particular the solemn and majestic ‘Nimrod’, representing his publisher – are a firm favourite for countless listeners.

Filmed as live at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre

Capture date: Sunday 18 April 2021

Prices & Discounts

£10 to £20

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Standard ticket: £11
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Standard ticket: £12
Standard+ ticket: £20
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When and where

This concert was filmed at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and will premiere on Friday 7 May 2021 at 7.30pm. It was filmed on 18 April 2021

How can I watch

You will get an email on the day of the premiere with a unique link to watch the stream. You can watch as many times as you want after that for 30 days. For further details on how to book and watch, visit our FAQs page

Running time

80 minutes

Is this a live performance?

No. This performance is filmed as live but it took place on Sunday 18 April 2021

Was it produced safely?

Yes. We are working with independent health and safety experts and have robust risk assessment procedures in place drawing from Public Health England advice.

Was it produced safely?

Read the digital programme notes for this concert

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