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Tuesday Opera – Gloriana in full from The Royal Opera

04/01/2022

Cast and creative team: Susan Bullock: Queen Elizabeth I Toby Spence: Robert Devereux, Earl Of Essex Patricia Bardon: Frances, Countess Of Essex Mark Stone: Mountjoy Kate Royal: Penelope (Lady Rich) Sister to Essex Jeremy Carpenter: Sir Robert Cecil Clive Bayley: Captain of the Guard Benjamin Bevan: Henry Cuffe Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House; Paul Daniel Stage Director: Richard Jones —

The Story:

Queen Elizabeth I is approaching the end of her reign. The balance between her role as monarch and her affection for the impulsive Earl of Essex is tested when he grows increasingly ambitious. Should she follow the guidance of her advisors or will she be swayed by emotion?

Background to the production

Benjamin Britten’s opera Gloriana was written in 1953 for celebrations around the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to whom the opera is dedicated. It had its first performance at the Royal Opera House on 8 June 1953, in the presence of The Queen then just 6 days into her reign. The centenary in 2013 of Britten’s birth prompted this new Royal Opera production, in which director Richard Jones uses the setting of a celebratory pageant in 1953 to explore the work’s alternating splendour and intimacy. This theatrical, inventive and colourful staging has at its core the symbolic reflections between the Tudor Elizabethan and the New Elizabethan ages that characterize the opera. The juxtaposition of the modern and the archaic in William Plomer’s libretto is wonderfully amplified in music that artfully fuses the sounds and manners of Tudor England – from lute songs to courtly dances – with Britten’s own distinctive style.

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