Opera Abbreviated: Opera at Ohio State

Apr 8, 2014

The School of Music at The Ohio State University presents Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at The Drake Performance and Event Center on Thursday, April 17 and Saturday, April 19.

Russel Mikkelson conducts with the production by A. Scott Parry. More information at music.osu.edu

Opera Abbreviated is a series of podcasts offering brief synopses with musical examples of the operas being presented by the Metropolitan in its "Live in HD Series." You can find the complete set to date at wosu.org/podcasts.

I've produced a special Opera Abbreviated about Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. The opera is interesting on several levels.

It is a compact piece, very dramatic with Britten's spare music neatly telling a tragic story. Shakespeare told Lucretia's tragedy in his epic poem of the same title. Britten's librettist Ronald Duncan used Shakespeare as a source along with French playwright Andre Obey's Le viol de Lucrece.

The small orchestration was necessitated by the conditions in Britain and the rest of Europe immediately after World War II. Britten, and the Glyndebourne Festival needed an opera that could tour.

The premiere was double cast. British singers Nancy Evans, Joan Cross and Peter Pears were in the cast, along with Danish tenor Aksel Schiotz. Chief among them, at least for the public, was the contralto Kathleen Ferrier in her first opera role.

Listen above to hear more about this moody and beautiful opera, then plan to see OSU's production April 17 or 19. See you there.