Superb production of Snape opera

Rape of Lucretia, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Snape, October 24This opera, ostensibly a contrast from the large-scale canvas of the previous opera, Peter Grimes, does share an important feature with the latter.

Rape of Lucretia, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Snape, October 24

This opera, ostensibly a contrast from the large-scale canvas of the previous opera, Peter Grimes, does share an important feature with the latter. In both works the central character stands apart from the crowd and is pursued and harassed to a degree that suicide becomes the only option.

In this intelligently staged and splendidly sung performance the increasing tension and inevitability of disaster were supported by tightly disciplined playing and splendid use of a large dimpled window combined with clever lighting at the rear of the stage. As a result, Tarquinius' approach to Lucretia's chamber gained an extraordinarily sinister edge.

The roles of the male and female single-voice chorus open and close the opera and Robyn Driedger-Klassen and James Geer were clear and authoritative in their delivery. It is not easy to get all the words across and in this context they were among the most successful of the singers. Benedict Nelson grew into the part of the rapist, Tarquinius and the rape scene was cleverly directed, culminating in a blaze of garish light. Blythe Gaissert played the part of the unsullied Lucretia with impressive nobility, making her subsequent collapse and demise all the more chilling. Jillian Yemen and Eve-Lyn de la Haye as Lucretia's servants sang with fresh charm and spontaneity. Stephen Mumbert was a suitably coarse and provocative Junius with Allen Boxer a slightly retiring Collatinus.


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Britten's skill, indeed genius, with chamber resources was to repeat itself many times and the Britten-Pears Orchestra under David Parry played with commitment and understanding, always at the service of the music and adding to, but never dominating, the action.

I must also single out the exceptional contributions of Edward Dick as director, Robert Hopkins as set designer and Katharine Williams as lighting designer.

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An excellent evening with the warm applause thoroughly deserved.

Gareth Jones

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