- The Rape of Lucretia, chamber opera, Op. 37
Britten: The Rape of Lucretiaby Angelika Kirchschlager
In this live 2011 recording by Oliver Knussen and the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, Benjamin Britten's chamber opera "The Rape of Lucretia" is presented in the revised version, which varies little from the original except for the somewhat shortened first act. The powerful performances by Peter Coleman-Wright as Tarquinius and Angelika Kirchschlager as Lucretia are central to this pagan/Christian morality tale and are the most compelling characters of this production, especially in the crucial rape scene in Act II. Yet they are overshadowed by the highly florid singing of Ian Bostridge as the Male Chorus, which seems out of proportion in its theatricality to the rawer realism of the other roles. However, the convoluted language of the libretto lends itself to an over-the-top interpretation, so Bostridge's role and Susan Gritton's corresponding Female Chorus are, perhaps intentionally on Britten's part, more prominent than the other characters, since the progress of the drama depends on their presentational delivery. Despite this imbalance, the opera is well-handled as music, and Knussen leads the ensemble with intensity and clarity, drawing out many fine details in the score that add to the story's urgency and disturbing moods. Virgin's recording is exceptional for a live performance, offering sound that has realistic dimensions, natural presence, and vibrant sonorities.
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Performance CreditsAngelika Kirchschlager Primary Artist
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