Tag Archives: Britten

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Glyndebourne, GFO, August 2016

This was a treat. Peter Hall’s production with its moving trees and bushes and gently swaying branches shows the forces of nature creating the magic that is so well exemplified in Benjamin Britten’s music. John Bury’s designs and Paul Pyant’s lighting foster an atmosphere where the desires of the lovers and the temerity of the …

Read more >


Royal Ballet Triple Bill: Ceremony of Innocence, Age of Anxiety, Aeternum, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2014

This triple bill takes us from the loss of childhood innocence to the memory of parents passed away, ideas that frame the first and third items, both to music of Benjamin Britten. Ceremony of Innocence appears in W B Yeats’ poem The Second Coming as ‘The ceremony of innocence is drowned’, a line that Britten …

Read more >


Paul Bunyan, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, ROH, February 2014

Paul Bunyan was a legendary folk hero in nineteenth century America, a lumberjack of mythical size and strength. The myth may have started with a French Canadian, Paul Bunyon, who led fellow loggers in a rebellion against British troops in 1837, but whatever the origin, stories told around campfires enhanced his size to gigantic proportions, …

Read more >


Billy Budd, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2013

This concert version of the Glyndebourne production, using the same singers, conductor, chorus and orchestra, added one glorious extra touch. At the end of the Epilogue, after Captain Vere has recalled his inaction that led to the hanging of Billy Budd in 1797, he walked slowly off the stage, and the only sound in the …

Read more >


Billy Budd, Glyndebourne, August 2013

A brilliant evening at the opera requires three things: a first rate opera, an illuminating production, and marvellous singing. Here we had all three. Billy Budd, shown here in its two-act version, rather than the four-act original, is a stunning piece of theatre. The three main characters, Captain Vere, Billy, and Claggart, all embody in …

Read more >


Grimes on the Beach, Aldeburgh, June 2013

It all started with a Spitfire, flying low across the sea, first one way then the other, before looping the loop and vanishing into the distance. This reminder of 1945 fitted the costumes and ostensibly precarious sets by Leslie Travers in Tim Albery’s excellent production. Watching Britten’s Grimes on a set that ran along the …

Read more >


Gloriana, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 2013

Unlike predecessors such as Peter Grimes (1945) and Billy Budd (1951), Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana may never be part of the standard repertoire, but the ROH has now given us a fine new perspective on this opera. Exactly sixty years after its first performances to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation, this newly imaginative, clever and colourful production …

Read more >


Death in Venice, English National Opera, London Coliseum, June 2013

Gustav von Aschenbach, the protagonist in Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella is enraptured by a Polish boy Tadzio, just as Mann himself was during his 1911 stay at the Grand Hôtel des Bains on the Venice Lido. Britten’s opera fully brings to life Aschenbach’s suppressed passion, and the haunting Venetian soundscapes, complemented by Deborah Warner’s remarkable …

Read more >


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. …

Read more >


The Prince of the Pagodas, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, June 2012

King Lear meets Sleeping Beauty in this mid-1950s fairy tale creation by John Cranko, to music commissioned from Benjamin Britten. After the Cranko ballet fell out of the repertoire, Kenneth MacMillan made his own version in 1989. This revival now contains some cuts to the music that he originally intended, but was not permitted to make. …

Read more >


Peter Grimes, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 2011

This production brings out the horrid awkwardness of Grimes’s estrangement from the local community, eliciting our sympathy for him …

Read more >


A Midsummer Night’s Dream, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2011

…if you’re willing to accept a representation of mysterious forces in the otherwise mundane world of human beings, then this is strongly recommended as an intriguing take on Britten’s opera.

Read more >


The Turn of the Screw, ENO, English National Opera, October 2009

With thirteen musicians in the pit, under the direction of Charles Makerras, the musical rendering could not be better

Read more >


Peter Grimes, English National Opera, London Coliseum, May 2009

…what really drove Britten’s masterpiece home was Stuart Skelton [as Grimes], Felicity Palmer [as Mrs. Sedley], the chorus, and the conductor Edward Gardner.

Read more >