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Introduction

Queen Elizabeth I is approaching the end of her reign. Her affection for the impulsive Earl of Essex is tested when he grows increasingly ambitious. Should she listen to the guidance of her advisors or be swayed by emotion?

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Background

Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana was commissioned by the Royal Opera House to mark the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. William Plomer drew on Lytton Strachey’s Elizabeth and Essex to create the libretto, which artfully combines modern and archaic forms of English. Britten’s score is similarly diverse: it mixes the sounds and manners of Tudor England – from lute songs to courtly dances – with the composer’s own distinctive style.

Moving from the pomp of state ceremony to the intimacy of the Queen’s private rooms, Gloriana depicts the public and private faces of the Virgin Queen, and the deterioration of her relationship with the impulsive Earl of Essex. Director Richard Jones is known at the Royal Opera House for his characterful interpretations of Il trittico, The Gambler and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.