‘Piercingly intelligent, immaculately realised ... Here is music drama of the very highest power and quality.’
‘The singing is outstanding from all concerned: direct, clear, simple and devastating.’
‘A strong cast, including Christine Rice’s noble Lucretia and Duncan Rock’s forthright Tarquinius, bring Britten’s tragic chamber opera vividly to life’
‘Opera at its most nakedly powerful’
This is how the Daily Telegraph described Fiona Shaw’s production of The Rape of Lucretia, first presented on the Glyndebourne Tour 2013 in celebration of the centenary of one of England’s greatest composers.
Festival 2015 sees a revival of the award-winning production, with a cast of some of today’s most exciting British singers.
Britten coined the term ‘chamber opera’ to describe this intimate, haunting masterpiece. It deploys a cast of eight and an orchestra of just 13 players to stunningly colourful and evocative effect.
Britten offsets lean, dramatic declamation with passages of meltingly lyrical beauty.
‘This new production… the first at Glyndebourne since Britten’s chamber opera had its premiere there in 1946, is quite the darkest – and possibly the most truthful – you’re likely to see in some time’
– The Times
Listen to The Rape of Lucretia podcast
Produced by Mair Bosworth for the 2013 Glyndebourne Tour
Appearing on stage
Stage and film star Fiona Shaw directs the production, while Lucretia is sung by mezzo-soprano Christine Rice.
Joining her is Kate Royal as the Female Chorus, returning after her much-praised Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier in Festival 2014, and Allan Clayton, who repeats his acclaimed portrayal of the Male Chorus.
Leo Hussain makes his Festival debut conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The historic tale of Lucretia has inspired works by artists throughout the ages.
According to historians, Lucretia was raped by Tarquinius Sextus, son of the Etruscan King of Rome. Her consequent suicide spurred the revolution that toppled the monarchy and brought about the Roman Republic.
In Ronald Duncan’s libretto, the action is introduced and commented upon throughout by two contemporary observers, a Male and Female Chorus, lending the story an urgent, contemporary air.
Sung in English with supertitles
Supported by Carol and Paul Collins through Glyndebourne Association America Inc.
By kind persmission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.
Cast and creative team
Conductor Leo Hussain
Director Fiona Shaw
Set Designer Michael Levine
Costume Designer Nicky Gillibrand
Lighting Designer Paul Anderson
Lucretia Christine Rice
Male Chorus Allan Clayton
Female Chorus Kate Royal
Tarquinius Duncan Rock
Collatinus Matthew Rose
Bianca Catherine Wyn-Rogers
Junius Michael Sumuel
Lucia Louise Alder
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Date Start Interval Finish Train departs Victoria Sun 5 Jul 2015 5:00pm 6:00pm 8:25pm 1.47pm Fri 10 Jul 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm Fri 17 Jul 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm Fri 24 Jul 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm Thu 30 Jul 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm Tue 4 Aug 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm Sun 9 Aug 2015 5:00pm 6:00pm 8:25pm 1.47pm Fri 14 Aug 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm Wed 19 Aug 2015 5:15pm 6:15pm 8:40pm 1.46pm
The Male Chorus and Female Chorus tell us how the ancient Etruscans seized Rome and how Etruscans rule.
At an army camp outside the city, the generals Collatinus, Junius and Tarquinius discuss how, the previous night, they had ridden back to Rome only to find their wives unfaithful – except for Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus. The cuckolded Junius, jealous of Lucretia’s fidelity, mocks and argues with the single Tarquinius. Junius insists that all women are whores by nature, but the drunken Tarquinius declares that Lucretia is not. ‘I’ll prove her chaste,’ he says, and leaves for Rome.
In an interlude, the Male Chorus describes Tarquinius’s ride to Rome.
That evening, at Lucretia’s house in Rome, her servants Bianca and Lucia are spinning. While working they talk of men and love.
There is a violent knock on Lucretia’s door. Tarquinius enters and asks Lucretia for wine and lodging. She shows him to a room for the night.
The Male Chorus and Female Chorus describe the Etruscan domination of Rome.
Tarquinius steals into Lucretia’s room. He kisses her and she, dreaming of Collatinus, draws him closer. But when Lucretia wakes and realises it is Tarquinius they struggle. Tarquinius overcomes Lucretia.
In an interlude, the Male Chorus and Female Chorus interpret the events of the night from their devout Christian viewpoint.
The next morning, Lucia and Bianca arrange flowers. Lucretia enters and asks Lucia to send for Collatinus, but Bianca tries to stop the messenger. Collatinus arrives with Junius. Lucretia tells Collatinus what has happened.
He insists it will not change their marriage, but Lucretia knows differently.
In an epilogue, the Female Chorus wonders if there is any meaning to these tragic events. The Male Chorus insists that all is made right through Jesus Christ. But the question remains: ‘Is it all?’