Lots to do now I’m back in London. I’m conducting The Rape of Lucretia in August at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston, East London. Finished the casting, one or two more players to fix and a bit more money to raise. The production will be part of the Arcola’s Grimeborn Festival, the pun meaning to represent the Festival as Glyndebourne’s antithesis. Here’s what the Evening Standard said about it: ‘Grimeborn is an opera festival that strives to be everything that Glyndebourne isn’t. Instead of boozy picnics, dress codes and country house manners, there is “theatrical innovation from the frontline of contemporary music”, all amid the grit and, yes, grime of Dalston.’ Dalston is an achingly cool part of London. I wonder if the audience will be too…
The Festival’s also a chance to hear lesser performed works, and although Lucretia is well-known it is not performed as often as other Britten operas, certainly not in the main houses anyway. In doing Lucretia for the Grimeborn Festival plenty of ironies arise. The opera was premiered at Glyndebourne just after the War, and precipitated the cooling of relations between Britten and John Christie. I’m reading Humphey Carpenter’s biography of Britten, and it sounded like quite a tricky time in Glyndebourne’s history. The interesting thing is that it hasn’t been done there since, so how appropriate for it to be performed for Grimeborn instead.
Really looking forward to it. the director, Max Key, and I have assembled a fabulous young cast, and some great players too. Lucretia was the first opera I conducted (whilst still a student at the RCM) and I think it’s a completely gripping pieceof theatre with some wonderful music. The Arcola is an converetd old sewing factory – a really interesting space which I think will serve the drama perfectly. We’ll sort of be staging it in the round, so the audience will be in close proximity to the action. With all the references in Lucretia to fabric, spinning, weaving and so on, the libretto seems to have a certain resonance with the venue – something which we’d like to touch on in the production if we can.
After Grimeborn I shall be working for Glyndebourne on Tour which I think is rather neat. I’ll be conducting performances of La Cenerentola.