‘Piercingly intelligent, immaculately realised ... Here is music drama of the very highest power and quality.’

Rupert Christiansen , The Telegraph July 06, 2015

‘The singing is outstanding from all concerned: direct, clear, simple and devastating.’

Anna Picard , The Times July 07, 2015

‘A strong cast, including Christine Rice’s noble Lucretia and Duncan Rock’s forthright Tarquinius, bring Britten’s tragic chamber opera vividly to life’

George Hall , The Guardian July 07, 2015
  • Details

    ‘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

    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

  • Performance schedule
    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
  • Synopsis

    Act I

    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.

    Act II

    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?’