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CHAN 241-51M
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CHAN 241-51
(multiple CD Set)
Opera - The Rape of Lucretia

Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

The Classical Shop
release date: August 2014

Originally recorded in 1994


City of London Sinfonia

Richard Hickox

Donald Maxwell


Alan Opie


Alastair Miles


Jean Rigby


Ameral Gunson


Catherine Pierard


Patricia Rozario


Nigel Robson



Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London


Ralph Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Richard Lee


Record Label



Total Time - 116:09
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Opera - The Rape of Lucretia

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The Rape of Lucretia, Op. 37

  ACT ONE - Scene One - The generals' tent in the camp outside Rome 28:28      
1 Male Chrous: 'Roe is now ruled by the Etruscan upstart' - 5:47
2 Male Chorus: 'Here the thirsty ev'ning has drunk the wine of light' - 3:05
3 Collatinus: 'Who reaches heaven first is the best philosopher' - 7:46
4 Male Chorus: 'Oh, my God, with what agility does jealousy jump into a small heart' - 8:52
5 Male Chorus: 'Tarquinius does not wait when Tarquinius does not desire' - 2:57
6 Male Chorus: 'Tarquinius does not wait for his servant to wake' - 3:13
  Scene Two - A room in Lucretia's house in Rome, the same evening 20:28      
7 Female Chorus: 'The spinning wheel unwinds dreams which desire has spun' - 5:38
8 Lucretia: 'Listen! I heard a knock. Somebody is at the gate' - 3:03
9 Female Chorus: 'Time turns upon the hands of women' - 5:36
10 Female Chorus: 'None of the women move. It is too late for a messenger' - 6:09
  ACT TWO - Scene One - Lucretia's bedroom 24:30      
11 Female Chorus: 'The prosperity of the Etruscans was due to the richness of their native soil' - 7:39
12 Female Chorus: 'She sleeps as a rose upon the night' 3:01
13 Male Chorus: 'When Tarquinius desires, then Tarquinius will dare' 2:33
14 Tarquinius: 'Within this frail crucible of light' - 4:47
15 Tarquinius: 'Lucretia!' - 6:29
16 Female & Male Chorus: 'Here in this scene you see Virtue assailed by sin' - 4:14
  Scene Two - A room in Lucretia's house, the next morning 35:25      
17 Lucia: 'O what a lovely day' - 6:38
18 Bianca: 'Hush! Here she comes!'- 3:36
19 Lucretia: 'Flowers bring to ev'ry year the same perfection' - 6:24
20 Collatinus: 'Lucretia! Lucretia! O never again must we two dare to part' - 5:07
21 Lucretia: 'Last night Tarquinius ravished me and tore the fabric of our love' - 3:35
22 Collatinus: 'This dead hand lets fall all that my heart held when full' - 4:21
23 Female Chorus: 'Is it all? Is all this suffering and pain, in this in vain?' - 5:39
 Alan Opie baritone
 Alastair Miles bass
 Ameral Gunson mezzo-soprano
 Catherine Pierard soprano
 Donald Maxwell baritone
 Jean Rigby contralto
 Nigel Robson tenor
 Patricia Rozario soprano
 Richard Hickox
  5-8 July 1993  

Premiered in 1946 at Glyndebourne, The Rape of Lucretia was Britten’s second opera, coming after the unheralded stellar success of Peter Grimes. Perhaps in reaction to this, The Rape of Lucretia marks a radical change in approach and Britten’s decisive break with the grand opera tradition. A short work in only two acts with a small cast and an ensemble of only thirteen instrumentalists, it was the first ever chamber opera, a genre to which Britten and many others would return.

Despite its modest size, the opera packs a powerful emotional punch in dealing with its dark subject matter. It tells the story of the Roman noblewoman Lucretia who is raped by the tyrant Tarquinius Superbus, ruler of Rome, and elects to kill herself rather than live with the shame. It is a story with a rich history and many artistic interpretations. Britten’s compact libretto, developed by Ronald Duncan, is an adaptation of a play by André Obey, itself based on Shakespeare’s poem on the same subject.

The recording, made in 1993, is reissued as a part of the Richard Hickox Legacy Series, the renowned Britten conductor leading the City of London Sinfonia, the ensemble he founded in 1971. Hickox was praised for his ‘clear-sighted direction’ and there were also high marks for the ‘vivid, beautifully disciplined response from the City of London Sinfonia’ (Hi-Fi News). The recording includes Jean Rigby’s ‘beautifully sung and movingly felt performance’ (The Sunday Times) as Lucretia, and the supporting cast is excellent.

 “… I am happy to report that this new Lucretia almost matches the composer’s own. There isn’t a weak performance in the lot… He [Maxwell]is very masculine and very much into the character of Tarquinius. Lucretia is the center of everyone’s attention in the story, and in the recording Ms Rigby deserves a lot of attention. Hers is a tense, tragic performance, firmly, beautifully sung…”

Charles H Parsons – American Record Guide – January/February 2015

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