Benjamin Britten's Gloriana to mark 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation
A look at the origins of the opera, as well as the Queen's association with the Royal Opera House.
Today marks 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Following the death of King George VI, on 2 June 1953 the young princess was crowned in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in front of more than 8,000 guests.
The Queen has been a regular visitor to the Royal Opera House over the years. She has attended numerous gala performances, and re-opened the Royal Opera House in 1999 following its three year closure for refurbishment.
Her coronation in 1953 was marked by the premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, an opera commissioned in honour of the occasion.
Based on Lytton Strachey’s Elizabeth and Essex, the opera depicts the public and private trials of Elizabeth I at the end of her reign. Find out more about the story in our political opera series.
To mark both the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and the centenary of Britten’s birth, Richard Jones will direct a new production of the opera, bringing Gloriana to Covent Garden for the first time in six decades.
Renowned soprano Susan Bullock, who sang the role of Brünnhilde in The Ring Cycle earlier this season, will sing the role of Queen Elizabeth I.
‘I’m fascinated by the two conflicted sides of Elizabeth I,’ she said in an interview for Friends of Covent Garden Magazine. ‘There’s the private Elizabeth who wants to be in love like any woman, and there’s the official Queen, who feels she has to behave like a man to be taken seriously. I have to find the voice of Elizabeth I; I’ve got to find out who this woman is.’
Gloriana runs from 20 June to 6 July. Tickets are available now. It will also be screened live in cinemas on 24 June, and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 6.45pm on 29 June.
This production has been made possible thanks to the generous philanthropic support of the Britten-Pears Foundation, the Boltini Trust and Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson.