Other literary forms
Tony Harrison has strong, continuing connections with the theater and opera. His version of Molière’s Le Misanthrope (1666; The Misanthrope, 1709) was produced by Great Britain’s National Theatre in 1973, and his radical adaptation of Jean Racine’s Phèdre (1677; Phaedra, 1701)—whose title, Phaedra Brittanica, suggests how far he took it away from its source—appeared in 1975. His adaptation of Aeschylus’s Oresteia (458 b.c.e.; English translation, 1777) came in 1981. He has also worked in opera, both as a librettist (with Harrison Birtwistle in Bow Down in 1977) and as a regular translator and adaptor for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He provided the English lyrics for Mikis Theodorakis’s songs for the film The Blue Bird (1976).
Harrison has a wide range of interests as a translator, and the occasional translation often shows up in his volumes of poetry, but he also addresses himself to more substantial translation projects. While a lecturer in English in Nigeria, he collaborated with James Simmons on a translation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrat (411 b.c.e.; Lysistrata, 1837) into the Pidgin English of a native tribe. He is also the translator of the work of the fourth century c.e. Greek epigrammatist Palladas, and the selection Poems appeared in 1975. In 1988, he wrote his first play, The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, which was published in 1990.