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02 October 2019 (Wed), 19:00 Moscow theatre "New Opera" - Opera Benjamin Britten "The Rape of Lucretia" (Opera in two acts)

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (till 21:20)

The performance has 1 intermission

Schedule for Benjamin Britten "The Rape of Lucretia" (Opera in two acts) 2021-2022

Composer: Benjamin Britten
Music Director: Jan Latham Koenig
Stage Director: Ekaterina Odegova
Costume Designer: Etel Ioshpa

Orchestra: Symphony Orchestra of the "New Opera" Theatre

Opera in 2 act

World premiere: 12 July 1946, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Premiere in Russia: 22 January 2005 The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera
Premiere of this production: 26 April 2019

Unflinching and haunting, The Rape of Lucretia explores the devastating impact of a single act of violence—forever altering an individual, a family, a community, and a society. Britten’s heartbreaking and lyrical 20th Century chamber opera resonates as an ancient yet relevant story, illuminating compelling and complex emotions today. Recommended for 18+

Benjamin Britten's opera The Rape of Lucretia was first performed at Glyndebourne in July 1946, just 13 months after the triumphant premiere of his Peter Grimes, which had been hailed as signalling a renaissance in English opera.

Yet the two works could hardly be more different. Where Grimes was a grand opera, with chorus and full orchestra, firmly rooted in the 19th-century tradition, its successor is at the other end of the scale, requiring just eight singers and 13 musicians, and part of what can be now be seen as an essentially 20th-century fascination with the economy and directness of stripped-down music theatre.

The premiere was given by the newly formed Glyndebourne English Opera Company - with Kathleen Ferrier as Lucretia, and Peter Pears and Joan Cross as the Male and Female Choruses. It was the director and writer Eric Crozier who suggested that André Obey's play Le Viol de Lucrèce could be the basis of an opera, and the composer asked his friend Ronald Duncan to provide the libretto. What Duncan came up with has been the source of debate ever since; its high-flown imagery and explicit Christian message have repelled some, as much as they have been approved by others.

In the story of the faithful and virtuous Lucretia's rape by the politically ambitious Etruscan Tarquinius, Britten had identified his persistent themes - the corruption of innocence, and the outsider in society, so dominant in Peter Grimes. The faithfulness of Lucretia to her husband Collatinus is very much the exception rather than the rule in the libidinous Rome of the opera. In Britten's dramatic scheme the Male and Female Choruses are more than just story-tellers. They describe and comment on the action, but gradually find their detachment subverted by the horror of what is happening, and provide the bridge between these events, which take place in classical, pre-Christian times, and the present- day audience, as both conscience and commentators.

The score is a model of the economy, creating a sound world of vivid evocation, while the interweaving of self-contained numbers with music that is more freely organised, shows how Britten had rethought his approach to opera and to the operatic tradition after Grimes.


Act 1. The Male and Female Chorus describe the historical background to the story and reveal their view of events to be that of a later, Christian era. The action is set in and around Rome immediately before the end of the reign of the Etruscan king Tarquinius Superbus in 510 BC. At a military camp outside the city his son, the prince Tarquinius Sextus is drinking with two generals, Collatinus and Junius. They discuss an earlier, unfortunate bet, in which the constancy of various Roman wives was tried and found wanting. Of the married men (Tarquinius goes to brothels) only Collatinus can boast a faithful wife, Lucretia, who was discovered sleeping alone in her husband’s absence. Urged on by the malicious Junius, Tarquinius decides to prove Lucretia chaste by attempting her virtue himself and rides off to Rome. His arrival at her house produces consternation, but hospitality forces Lucretia to offer him a room for the night, despite her misgivings and those of her servants.

Act 2. Tarquinius’s purpose, however, is made clear when he wakes her and rapes her before leaving the house. The following morning her late appearance in a distressed, broken state, is only slowly understood by her nurse Bianca and made Lucia, and her husband is sent for. Collatinus arrives with Junius to hear the new, and despite his at least partial understanding of Lucretia’s ‘shame’ it is too painful for her to bear, and she stabs herself. Her death provides the impetus for the Romans to throw out the Tarquins. The Male and Female Chorus attempt to come to terms with these events in a Christian context.

Schedule for Benjamin Britten "The Rape of Lucretia" (Opera in two acts) 2021-2022

Benjamin Britten "The Rape of Lucretia" (Opera in two acts) - Novaya Opera
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