Splendid singing to start Aldeburgh

The Rape of Lucretia, English National Opera @ Snape Maltings

The Rape of Lucretia, English National Opera @ Snape Maltings

By FRANK CLIFF

It was an auspicious opening to this year's Aldeburgh Festival – the premiere of a new production of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, the result of further collaboration between the festival and English National opera, following the success of last year's Peter Grimes.

Rumour has it that the operatic connection may continue and if so, judged by Friday's splendid performance, it is excellent news.

David McVicar's first venture into Britten results in a production that is pure and free from excessive directorial interpretation. Some might question his use of male and female Chorus as very active participants in the action, although this seemed to add an extra dimension to what is not the most theatrical of Britten's operas.

McVicar secures excellent acting, and on Friday the singing was superb, although the diction was variable.

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Scarcely a word of John Mark Ainsley's Chorus was clear and even the words of Sarah Connolly's radiant voiced Lucretia were sometimes lost.

Fine conducting from Paul Daniel, sensitive to every nuance, and rewarded with superb playing from the soloists of the ENO Orchestra.