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Britten: The Rape Of Lucretia / Ainsley, Boylan, Bayley, Melrose, Maltman [blu-ray]

Britten / Connolly / Maltman / Wyn-rogers / Nelson
Release Date: 01/28/2014 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7135  
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Orla BoylanChristopher MaltmanCatherine Wyn-RogersMary Nelson,   ... 
Conductor:  Paul Daniel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English National Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Benjamin Britten
(Blu-ray Disc Version)

Lucretia – Sarah Connolly
Tarquinius – Christopher Maltman
Bianca – Catherine Wyn-Rogers
Lucia – Mary Nelson
Junius – Leigh Melrose
Collatinus – Clive Bayley
Female Chorus – Orla Boylan
Male Chorus – John Mark Ainsley

English National Opera Orchestra
Paul Daniel, conductor

David McVicar, stage director

Recorded live at
Read more the Aldeburgh Festival, The Maltings, Snape, 2001

- Cast gallery

Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean
Running time: 120 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (Blu-ray)

R E V I E W: 3761210.az_BRITTEN_Rape_Lucretia_Paul.html

BRITTEN The Rape of Lucretia Paul Daniel, cond; Sarah Connolly (Lucretia); Christopher Maltman (Tarquinius); John Mark Ainsley (Male Chorus); Orla Boylan (Female Chorus); Clive Bayley (Collatinus); Leigh Melrose (Junius); Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Bianca); Mary Nelson (Lucia); O of the English Natl Op OPUS ARTE 7135 (Blu-ray: 120:00) Live: Aldeburgh 6/2001

Premiered at Glyndebourne in July of 1946, The Rape of Lucretia was Britten’s first stage work after Peter Grimes, and the first he called a “chamber opera.” It was composed for just eight singers and a chamber ensemble of 12 instrumentalists, but a good performance of Lucretia packs at least as much of an emotional wallop as Peter Grimes or Billy Budd, and this performance is indeed a good one. A mood of dread and tense expectation is established in the opening scene for the Roman generals—Collatinus, Junius, and the depraved Tarquinius—that hardly lets up for the entire work. Four of the singes are truly top-notch: John Mark Ainsley and Orla Boylan as the Male and Female Chorus, Sarah Connolly in the title role, and Christopher Maltman (officially a “Barihunk,” who gets to take his shirt off for the rape scene) portraying Tarquinius. The other singers also cover their roles quite effectively. For example, the peaceful oasis in act I, scene 2, where the servants Bianca and Lucia wordlessly accompany the Female Chorus, is especially lovely.

As is frequently the case for this artist, stage director David McVicar questions, clarifies, and reconsiders. In a brief “Extra Feature,” McVicar explains that he actively rebelled against Britten’s specific instructions that the Male and Female Chorus should comment on the action, but not participate in it. Here, the two interact on stage with the other six singers, which makes the production considerably more theatrical and much less stylized. One reason, McVicar offers, is that Lucretia’s relationship with the Female Chorus can counter the typical “objectification” of the character—we can more easily understand her as something other than a sexual target. Lucretia’s costume is almost frumpish; she’s no fancier in her dress than her servants. She sports a plain, short hairstyle and wears very little jewelry. This wife of a powerful Roman general is certainly no temptress. This effort to de-glamorize the character may further confuse the already confused matter as to why Lucretia feels any sense of blame for her violation, why she won’t accept her husband’s absolution and kills herself. McVicar doesn’t seem to have much trouble with the opera’s “Christian” epilog, which was added (perhaps, it’s been said, at the urging of Peter Pears) to soften the harsh tragedy of Lucretia’s death by invoking the suffering and sacrifice of Christ. The director reminds us that the work was introduced just following World War II, when the world was attempting to come to grips with the senseless horror of the Holocaust. But a listener certainly won’t feel warm and fuzzy after the final blackout: This production maintains plenty of the moral ambiguity inherent to the score and libretto.

In keeping with the modest musical forces employed, Yannis Thavoris’s set and costume design is simple, attempting no profound commentary of its own. The recorded sound is good, with excellent detail to reveal Britten’s imaginative use of the small orchestra. Subtitle choices are English, French, German, Japanese, and Korean.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
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Works on This Recording

Rape of Lucretia, Op. 37 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Orla Boylan (Soprano), Christopher Maltman (Baritone), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mezzo Soprano),
Mary Nelson (Soprano), Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Leigh Melrose (Baritone),
Clive Bayley (Bass), John Mark Ainsley (Tenor)
Conductor:  Paul Daniel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English National Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; England 

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