OPERA SEARCH

Composer List


Title


Genre List


Opera Length



Advanced Search

*Deutsch

Photo: Bill Rafferty
English National Opera 2001, David McVicar, dir

Britten, Benjamin

The Rape of Lucretia (1946, rev.1947)

Duration: 107 minutes
Opera in two acts

Libretto by Ronald Duncan, after the play by André Obey (E,Cz,Fl,G,I,S,Sc)

Scoring
2S,M,A,T,2Bar,B 1(=picc,afl).1(=corA).1(=bcl).1-1.0.0.0-perc(1):timp/susp.cym/gong/ BD/TD/SD/tgl/whip/tamb-harp-pft(=conductor)-strings (1.1.1.1.1).
Abbreviations (PDF).


Territory
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.



World Premiere
7/12/1946
Glyndebourne
Eric Crozier, director
Conductor: Ernest Ansermet
Company: Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Roles

MALE CHORUSTenor
FEMALE CHORUSSoprano
COLLATINUS, a Roman generalBass
JUNIUS, a Roman generalBaritone
PRINCE TARQUINIUS, son of the Etruscan tyrant, Tarquinius SuperbusBaritone
LUCRETIA, wife of CollatinusContralto
BIANCA, Lucretia's nurseMezzo-Soprano
LUCIA, Lucretia's maidSoprano


Time and Place
In or near Rome, 500 B.C.


Synopsis

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 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. There 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. Tarquinius's purpose, however, is made clear when he wakes her and forces himself upon her before leaving her house. The following morning her late appearance in a distressed, broken state is only slowly understood by her nurse Bianca and maid Lucia, and her husband is sent for. Collatinus arrives with Junius to hear the news, 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.


Repertoire Note
It was a combination of economic realities and aesthetic preferences that encouraged Britten to develop the concept of chamber opera, employing a small cast without chorus and an orchestra of just thirteen players. His first work in the new medium was The Rape of Lucretia, first performed just over a year after Peter Grimes, in 1946. There is, however, no loss of colour and atmosphere – indeed the pared-down textures produced an intensification of Britten’s operatic vision which was to serve him further in Albert Herring and The Turn of the Screw.

With the roles of the Male and Female Chorus, who comment on the action ‘out of time’ (as in Greek tragedy) and the use of solo piano accompaniment to accompany recitative passages, Lucretia achieves a certain ‘classical’ poise and detachment. However, Lucretia and Tarquinius are flesh-and-blood characters driven by real human emotions and desires (Lucretia’s music is surely some of Britten’s most sheerly beautiful) and the resulting amalgam is an opera of great musico-dramatic power and expressive richness.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears Library


Moods
Dramatic, Poetic, Tragic


Subjects
Contemporary, Ethics, History, Relationships, Society, Literary


Recommended Recording
English National Opera / Lionel Friend
Arthaus DVD 102021

Click here to purchase this DVD from our online shop

Jean Rigby/Nigel Robson/Catherine Pierard/Donald Maxwell/Alastair Miles/Alan Opie/Patricia Rozario/Ameral Gunson/City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
Chandos CHAN 9254

Click here to purchase this CD set from our online shop


*









Items on Sale

Rape Of Lucretia, op. 37 - study scoreStudy Score (hardback) - Hawkes Pocket Score 656> Details
Rape Of Lucretia, op. 37 - vocal score(Vocal Score) (English, German)> Details
The Rape Of Lucretia, op. 37 - librettoLibretto> Details
Mailing List

Sign up for news updates and offers via email

SIGN UP
Audio Visual Gallery
Get Adobe Flash player
ONLINE SCORES

Explore our library of over 1000 online scores

VIEW SCORES
FAQ | Contact Us | Links | About Us | Shop Directory | Careers | Terms of use | RSS Index