The opera traces the downfall of the Earl of Essex who, presuming upon his privilege as the Queen's favourite, forces a tragedy upon them both. Elizabeth I never forgot that she was the Queen and that, as a woman, she had to show that she could rule with no less authority and decision than a man; so she felt compelled to sentence him to death when he failed her and became a danger to the country.
With this strong sense of theatre Benjamin Britten vividly depicts Queen Elizabeth's dilemma and combines scenes of great pageantry with moments of private reflection.
Queen Elizabeth I: Sarah Walker
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: Anthony Rolfe Johnson
Frances, Countess of Essex: Jean Rigby
Sir Walter Raleigh: Richard van Allan
Penelope, Lady Rich: Elizabeth Vaughan
Sir Robert Cecil: Alan Opie
Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy: Neil Howlett
Henry Cuffe: Malcolm Donnelly
Lady-in-Waiting: Lynda Russell
Chorus and Orchestra of the English National Opera, Mark Elder 1984
Stage Production: Colin Graham
Sound: PCM Stereo
Region: 0 All regions
Running Time: 147mins