The British composer Benjamin Britten wrote the opera The Rape of Lucretia in 1946. Many were surprised that after the large-scale opera Peter Grimes, Britten now came with an intimate and small-scale work, with which he could direct all vocal attention to a small ensemble of singers. Central to this exciting yet sultry opera is the beautiful Lucretia from Rome and her richly emotional life. She is fatally besieged by Tarquinius, who will irrevocably endanger her life. Ingeniously Britten tells us the story, at times through the eyes of the characters, at other times through the eyes of two outsiders, who, unexpectedly and unwanted, become entangled in Lucretia’s tragic tale.
In this production by the Dutch National Opera Academy, director Maria Riccarda Wesseling and conductor Karel Deseure lead a team of fresh young voices. They situate the story in familiar surroundings, as the central idea of The Rape of Lucretia is timeless. Questions about love and fidelity, violence and yearning, and the silent hope for a solution occupy us all. The theme of the opera - the tragic loss of innocence - was to determine the rest of Benjamin Britten’s works.