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Britten: The Rape of Lucretia / Kirchschlager, Bostridge, Britton, Purves, Russell, Coleman-Wright. Knussen

Audio Samples

>Britten, Benjamin : The Rape of Lucretia

Album Summary

>Britten, Benjamin : The Rape of Lucretia
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Ian Bostridge has continued to be a success in performing ever since his operatic debut in 1994. Collaborating with orchestras such as Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, BBC Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic, he has proved to be a shining star in opera. In his slates release, he takes part in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, a dark opera in which a woman named Lucretia commits suicide after being raped. This powerful performance sheds light on a unique plot and intense sub-plot that is not short of passion or danger.

Benjamin Britten's chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia was given its premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1946. This intense revival displays excellent talent by Ian Bostridge, Angelika Kirchschlager Susan Gritton, Christopher Purves, Benjamin Russell, Peter Coleman-Wright Hilary Summers Binaca, Claire Booth Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, and features by Oliver Knussen. The Guardian felt that this performance succeeded in making music "Britten's richest... the orchestra, reveling in its extraordinary palette of colors, and showing how the score so often hangs like gossamer off the vocal lines." This opera portrays all of the drama passion and beauty throughout the world of opera.

The Telegraph
Lucretia is a problematic and disturbing piece. It's hard to think of another opera where the opposite poles of male violence and tender female intimacy are made so vividly real in purely musical terms, and brought into such horrifying proximity.

BBC Music Magazine, April 2013
Without hurrying, Knussen conducts a tight, vivid account, surpassing Britten's own...Ian Bostridge and Susan Gritton as Male and Female Chorus project their rhetorical commentaries with exemplary diction...Kirchschlager's passionate, full-voiced Lucretia is beautifully balanced by Claire Booth's bright Lucia and Hilary Summers's more mature Bianca.

Graham Rogers, bbc.co.uk, 6th February 2013
Although the story's brutality inevitably means that any performance of Lucretia is uncomfortable, Knussen and company ensure that Britten's score shines in a radiantly positive light, offsetting the skin-crawling nastiness with musical beauty.

Financial Times, 12th January 2013
Knussen draws out not only the pungency of Britten's language but also its almost touchable beauty and Mediterranean warmth...Kirchschlager is a Lucretia of contrasting purity and sensuousness...All in all, it's hard to imagine a more welcome addition to the Britten discography in his centenary year.

Gramophone Magazine, April 2013
Knussen's keen sense of pacing tells in the grip of the drama...[Kirchschlager] is the lightning rod for the electricity of the drama...she creates a Lucretia entirely her own - not so much a formal classical Greek heroine, more a modern woman whose feelings are very close to the surface...this new Virgin set ranks as one of the very best of the new generation of Britten opera recordings.

MusicWeb International, April 2013
The folding of the linen is a real highlight of this recording, a definite improvement on Britten's own reading in its sense of timeless suspension... Knussen yields nothing whatsoever to Britten in his careful pacing of the score, and the newer recording does enable us to hear details that were muffled before...a tremendous recording for a new generation.

Sunday Times, 3rd February 2013
I have rarely been as conscious of the salivating voyeurism with which the librettist Ronald Duncan describes the rape as in Ian Bostridge's brilliantly creepy singing of the Male Chorus's graphic description of Tarquinius's rampant machismo, nor as gripped and moved as by Angelika Kirchschlager's feisty but fruitless self-defence...Knussen's conducting is exemplary.

The Guardian, 17th January 2013
[The score] emerges more pungent and fiercely dramatic than I've ever heard it before...the protagonists in the drama are presented in all their contradictions...this performance is surely the best of recent times, redemptive in a way that the work itself can never be.

The Times, 1st March 2013
The opera's musical strengths stand taller than ever before, helped by the vivid accompaniment of the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble...Kirchschlager's heroine combines sensuous appeal with gut-wrenching horror, while Peter Coleman-Wright's bestial Tarquinius definitely belongs behind bars...Overall, the recording's triumph is to make the opera seem horrible, certainly, but not inhumane.

Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Sussie Ahlberg (vocals).

Recording information: Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk (06/11/2011/06/13/2011).


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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : The Rape of Lucretia
  • Performer: Ian Bostridge (Tenor)
  • Conductor: Oliver Knussen
  • Ensemble: Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble
  • Notes: Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk (06/11/2011/06/13/2011)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1946