Tag Archives: Benjamin Britten

Albert Herring, Buxton Festival, July 2017

Its narrow-minded Suffolk village setting makes Benjamin Britten’s only comic opera something of a counterpoint to his Peter Grimes from two years earlier. The plot is based on a Guy de Maupassant short story where the absence of a suitable girl as Rose Queen prompts the village matriarch to crown a Rose King, who then …

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Turn of the Screw, Opera Holland Park, OHP, July 2014

All performances start at 8 o’clock, and for good reason. The month is July and Act II emerges as the outside light gradually dims. In early Act I with daylight outside, Miles goes to a large blackboard on one side of the stage and draws the outline of what looks like a door. In the darker …

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Peter Grimes, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, January 2014

My lingering impression from this unusual David Alden production is of Grimes as one of the few sane people in the town. In Act III the choreographed actions of the townspeople make them look like a mad Greek chorus celebrating some Dionysian rite, and when they sing Peter Grimes! at the tops of their voices …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Apollo/ 24 Preludes/ Aeternum, Covent Garden, February 2013

Two completely new ballets, plus one staple from the Balanchine repertoire, made a very well judged triple bill. Alexei Ratmansky’s dances to Chopin’s 24 Preludes were sandwiched between the ethereal Apollo, and Christopher Wheeldon’s powerful new creation to Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem. More on that later, but first to Apollo. Patricia Neary’s staging goes back to Balanchine’s …

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Albert Herring, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, Covent Garden, October 2012

This delightful comic opera by Benjamin Britten creates a deftly woven musical tapestry performed by thirteen instrumentalists and roughly the same number of singers. Eric Crozier based his libretto on a tale by Guy de Maupassant, transferring it to a Suffolk town and creating a glorious critique of small town mentality, pomposity and sexual repression. …

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Peter Grimes, in concert, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2012

For those who saw English National Opera’s new production of Peter Grimes in 2009, here was a chance to savour the full glory of Britten’s score. With the ENO orchestra and chorus in the vast expanse of the Albert Hall under brilliant direction by Edward Gardner, this was a musical treat. As Grimes himself, Stuart Skelton gave a …

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Billy Budd, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2012

This Benjamin Britten opera, based on Herman Melville’s story of the same name, is a tragedy set in 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars. It’s a hugely strong work, and Edward Gardner in the orchestra pit gave it everything. The orchestra played with great power, the chorus was magnificent, and the singers were wonderful. The opera …

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The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne, August 2011

The clarity of this production, and this performance, was exceptional. From the first words of the Prologue to the last words of the drama when the Governess asks the limp body of Miles, “What have we done between us?”, the whole story was laid bare. The scene with the governess travelling by train to the big …

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Billy Budd, Glyndebourne, May 2010

The music — and this is wonderfully powerful music by Britten — was brilliantly played by the London Philharmonic under the baton of Mark Elder.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, English Touring Opera, Sadler’s Wells, London, March 2010

While much of the music and action is on a rather ethereal level, an excellent contrast was created in this production by the interaction between Tytania and Bottom as a priapic ass.

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The Habit of Art, National Theatre, December 2009

… in the end [this is] a play about Auden, Britten and indeed Bennett himself, and as usual his dialogue is wonderfully effective.

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The Beggar’s Opera by Benjamin Britten, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, Jan 2009

The failure of Britten’s composition might have been alleviated by the production team, led by Justin Way, but the deliberately ham acting and garish costumes were over the top, and the production did not fit the style of Britten’s music.

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