In tribute to the life and long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, English National Opera is to present a one-off concert staging of Britten’s Gloriana at the London Coliseum on 8 December.
Written in 1953 and premiered just six days after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Gloriana explores the relationship between the late queen’s predecessor and namesake, Elizabeth I, and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.
Based on Lytton Strachey’s 1928 book Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History, Britten’s Elizabeth is a monarch complete with human flaws, torn between a desire to fulfil her God-given duty and a growing romantic connection with the earl. Queen Elizabeth II was said to have been “flattered and delighted” by a private preview of the opera.
Set in the twilight years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, the queen and the earl are at first friends and confidants; however, they later become at odds following a series of unfortunate circumstances, including an attempted coup.
This new concert staging of Gloriana will commemorate the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September 2022. This production marks the first time the first time ENO has brought the opera to the stage since 1984.
British mezzo-soprano Christine Rice sings the role of the queen, with British tenor Robert Murray as Devereux. The cast also includes Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy as Frances, Countess of Essex, Edinburgh-born baritone Duncan Rock as Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, British soprano Sophie Bevan as Penelope, Lady Rich, Anglo-French baritone Charles Rice as Sir Robert Cecil and British bass David Soar as Sir Walter Raleigh.
Recently announced as an ENO Harewood Artist for 2022-23, South African tenor Innocent Masuku sings the role of the Spirit of the Masque. Noted bass-baritone Willard White plays two roles: a blind ballad singer and the Recorder of Norwich.
The production also features the ENO Chorus and Orchestra, under the baton of ENO music director Martyn Brabbins.
The opera will be staged for one night only at the London Coliseum on 8 December, with the show starting at 7pm. Tickets are on sale now, costing £10-£55.
A special concert staging of Britten’s Gloriana by English National Opera will take place at the London Coliseum on 8 December.