Opera Company of Philadelphia and The School District of Philadelphia present
Final Dress Rehearsal, June 3, 2009, 6:15 PM at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Artsâ€™ Perelman Theater
A Family Guide to
Pennsylvania’s standards in education call for students to show what they know and are able to do and children need to share what they have discovered or learned. Thus, the title of our program is Sounds of Learning™. It reflects our belief that children must be actively engaged in sharing ideas. The Sounds of Learning™ workbook and teacher guide will integrate with local core literacy curriculum in many ways. Just as opera is a uniquely integrated art, combining orchestra, voice, literature, drama, and dance, Sounds of Learning™ is an interdisciplinary and student-centered program. The goal of the Active Learning sections is to have your children engaged in the process of self-teaching. They will be able to show how they have gained insights into their learning by drawing, writing, and discussing the issues most relevant to them. In this way, students demonstrate what they can do with what they know. We believe the family is the most important foundation to learning. Let your kitchen table become a classroom where your children can build their knowledge of opera and the humanities. As you join in the teaching and learning process with your children, watch their eyes sparkle. Opera is a communal celebration, so too should be your children’s education. In reading the libretto, we suggest that you and your family members take turns reading particular roles. Dr. Ellen Winner of Harvard’s Project Zero found that: “drama helps to build verbal skills that transfer to new materials;” helps students in “reading readiness and achievement;” and “oral and written language development.” (Journal of Aesthetic Education, v34, #3/4, Fall/Winter, 2000.) In preparing for the opera, we suggest you purchase EMI’s excellent audio recording of this opera. We are grateful to EMI for offering us the use of their audio recording for this program and, to Boosey & Hawkes, Inc for the use of the libretto for this opera and to The Britten-Pears Foundation for the many photographs in the workbook.
Goals and Objectives of Sounds of Learning™ • • • • • •
Improve literacy rates by using the opera’s libretto to teach courses across the curriculum Understand the plot, characters, and their motivations Learn something about the composer, and others involved in writing the opera Know something of the historic and social context of the story Know some key musical elements, recognize certain melodies, differentiate between voices Understand the role music plays by expressing emotions and heightening the dramatic experience • Understand the various elements of producing opera and the functions of those involved; e.g. conductor, director, set designer, technical crew, etc. • Develop the ability to make judgments about the opera, production, and performance. • Relate incidents in the opera to those of the present day Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera 2 4 5
The Kimmel Center and the Perelman Theater Opera Etiquette 101 Opera-Online!
Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection 6 10 12 13 14 16 18 19 20
The Man Behind the Music: Benjamin Britten Events During Britten's Lifetime Britten’s Britain GAME: Connect the Opera Terms Creating Lucretia Who’s Who in The Rape of Lucretia GAME: Fill in the Blanks GAME: Lucretia’s Family Tree Who Were the Etruscans?
The Rape of Lucretia Libretto and Production Information 24 26 27 28 47
Spotlight on Nathan Gunn Meet the Artists The Rape of Lucretia Synopsis The Rape of Lucretia Libretto Lucretia Autograph Score Excerpt
48 50 54 58 59 62 64 66
Choose Your Words Wisely! Does Music Speak Louder than Words? Can You Hear Me Now? Spotlight on the Harp The Many Sounds of Opera The Rape of Lucretia: Behind the Music The Highs and Lows of the Operatic Voice Careers in the Arts
69 70 71 72 74 76 78
Online Identity The Art-Music Connection Modern Lucretia Lucretia Crossword Puzzle Everyone’s a Critic! Create your own review About the Author: Julia Madden
Behind the Music
Check out our website for additional content! Here you’ll find more information on the opera, its themes, lessons, and links to even more fascinating material. See page 5 for more details.
The Kimmel Center and the
Perelman Theater center requires exceptional acoustics, stage design, lighting, and various other details. In order to build such a structure, the city employed a large staff, including an architecture firm (Rafael Viñoly Architects PC), an acoustical design team led by Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants, Inc., and a team of theater consultants led by Richard Pilbrow and David I. Taylor. The Kimmel Center occupies a complete city block at the corner of Spruce and Broad Streets along Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts. It is close to the Academy of Music, the University of the Arts, The Curtis Institute of Music, and many other performing venues. It is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, but its proximity to other arts institutions makes it easily accessible for use by local performing arts organizations, like the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and touring groups, too.
“Kimmel Center Inc.’s mission is to operate a world-class performing arts center that engages and serves a broad audience from throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.” For many years, the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra shared a performing space with many of the other arts organizations in the Philadelphia area. Between rehearsals and performances, there was not enough stage time to accommodate all of the ensembles and touring shows that Philadelphia attracts. The orchestra needed a new home. The local government also wanted to construct a new venue for the city’s arts organizations and touring presenters. After years of hard work, the Kimmel Center project came to fruition with its ground breaking on November 12, 1998 and its opening on December 16, 2001. In the end, the total cost was $235,000,000 including land and building costs. In addition to the standard features of a traditional public building, a performance
The Kimmel Center’s interior is awe inspiring. A 150-foot glass half-cylinder encloses the entire complex and gives guests the feeling that they are outdoors even though they are not. The two theaters, Verizon Hall (home of the Philadelphia Orchestra with 2,547 seats) and the Perelman Theater (for chamber music and smaller-scale dance and dramatic performances with 651 seats) appear to be two separate buildings within the complex. Verizon Hall is situated toward the back of the center, and the smaller Perelman Theater is in the front. The Perelman Theater is set on a slight angle and topped with a public garden on its roof! The interior of Verizon Hall is shaped like the body of a violin. It is smoothly contoured and made of light wood. In contrast, the Perelman Theater is essentially a large cube. Although that may sound boring, the theater is quite extraordinary in its transformability. The goal in creating this smaller theater was to accommodate both experimental and traditional performances of theater, dance, chamber recitals, and various other events. According to the Kimmel Center web site, Richard Pilbrow said in an interview regarding the construction of the Perelman Theater, “The challenge of building the Perelman
3 Hall was a unique one: to create a superb hall for chamber music that could be changed very rapidly into a small theatre for dance and drama at minimum operating cost. This is intended both to optimize the utilization of the hall and minimize rental costs.” To make these rapid changes possible, the stage is on a turntable. The audience seating may be expanded to wrap around the side of the stage for chamber music, or be made to just be in front for theatrical performances. There is an orchestra pit that may be opened, or covered to produce a flat floor. An entire set design can be waiting in the back and then turned around in a matter of minutes to change the room from a concert hall to the set of a dance or theater piece.
Here are some fun facts about the Kimmel Center that will leave your mind reeling! The center has: 29,054 total cubic yards of concrete (equivalent to 92 miles of 5-foot wide sidewalk) 317,000 masonry blocks 3,700 total tons of structural steel 2,281 tonnage of rebar (reinforcing steel bars) 61,048 linear feet of structural steel tubing supporting the glass roof 1,400 tons of steel in the arches supporting the glass end walls 156,677 square feet (3.6 acres) of glass glazing 660 tons of weights holding glass end walls 9,300 gallons (860,000 square feet) of paint 594 doors 2.5 miles (13,184 linear feet) of handrails 14 elevators 144 bathroom fixtures (86 for women and 58 for men) 135,000 total cubic yards of dirt were removed from the construction site at Broad and Spruce Streets
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Now that’s dreaming BIG! courtesy of www.kimmelcenter.org
(left) A view of the exterior of the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center. (far left) The Kimmel Center as seen from Broad Street. Photos: Michael Bolton
The audience arrives for a chamber performance inside the Perelman Theater. Photo: Richard Doran, Courtesy, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
Opera Etiquette 101 ACTIVE LEARNING The picture on this page shows several patrons and famous opera characters on their way to attend an opera in the Academy of Music.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as attending the opera in a beautiful theater like the Perelman Theater. You will attending the opera’s final dress rehearsal, the last chance for the artists to rehearse before opening night. The opera will be run just like a performance, with no pauses to rerun a scene during each act. In the center of the floor level of the Perelman, the Plaza Level, you’ll notice computer monitors on a large table. The production team sits here to take notes and talk via headset with the many people backstage who make operatic magic happen. Unlike actors on television or in the movies, performers onstage are very aware of the audience. They want to share their love of performing with you. Everything you do in the audience affects what happens on stage. Because this is a working rehearsal, please refrain from talking. All of the artists need to concentrate on fine-tuning the production. You can show them how much you appreciate their work and the opportunity to come to the rehearsal by being as quiet as possible. So, please refrain from talking out of respect for the cast, musicians, the entire production team, and everyone in the theater. Give the artists and the production your full attention!
Now picture yourself in their shoes. On a separate piece of paper, write a few words on what you think the trip to the opera will be like. You may want to mention coming into Philadelphia, visiting the Kimmel Center, attending the opera. What will you wear? How will you and your classmates act? At what time will you meet your classmates? How may classmates will attend? Will you have a special dinner before the opera? If so, where? Will the opera be exciting and entertaining? Share your thoughts here and compare your stories with your classmates. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts so that everyone in the theater can enjoy the opera:
Please Do... • Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” for the
men and “Brava!” for the women. • Enter and exit the theater in an orderly fashion. • Please use the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins or at intermission. • Turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. • Enjoy the rehearsal. You’ve worked too hard preparing
for the rehearsal not to!
Don’t Forget... • Food, gum and beverages are not allowed inside the • • • • •
Perelman Theater. Photographs or video footage may not be taken during the performance. No talking or whispering during the rehearsal. No shoving, jumping, running, or spitting in the Kimmel Center. Please obey the Kimmel Center ushers and staff. Keep all objects to yourself. If you throw something, you might hurt someone and cause a disruption in rehearsal. It is grounds for removal from the auditorium. MAKE YOUR SCHOOL PROUD!
OPERA – Online!
Many of you may be studying music in your schools or privately. Where do you go if you want to learn more about The Rape of Lucretia, opera singers, opera-related topics and experience opera more frequently? Visit OCP’s website at: operaphila.org/community/sol-prod5.shtml. Here you can find more information about The Rape of Lucretia and all the operas presented by the Opera Company. The Opera Company makes this easy for you at absolutely no cost!
Opera Right in Your Email Inbox! Another great way to learn more is to sign up for the free weekly Sounds of Learning™ email list. Email your name, school and age to firstname.lastname@example.org and each week we’ll send you an opera video “clip of the week” with famous opera singers singing great arias and ensembles all throughout the summer. Some will be funny, some will be thrilling, some will be dramatic, all if it will be exciting! Also included in the email will be the website of the week. We’ll feature links to singers’ websites, music links, other great music and opera websites. You can build a whole library of video clips to go back to again and again! Share the clips and links with your family and friends. Don’t forget to check out our Sounds of Learning™ blog at http://operaphillysol.blogspot.com. The blog will allow you to discuss the opera with students throughout the tri-state area! Log onto the blog and share your thoughts and views about the opera, the music, the set, the singers, the Academy of Music, coming to center city Philadelphia, the email list clip of the week and more! Other students participating in Sounds of Learning™ from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware want to hear what you have to say! Post your comments by going to: http://operaphillysol.blogspot.com.
See rehearsal photos on our website at http://www.operaphila.org/production/behind-scenes. Log on and see our Behind the Scenes area to see how a production develops from the first day of rehearsal to opening night! Also, you can download extra copies of the Sounds of Learning™ guide and past guides from this page as well. All of this content is provided for free! If you’re online, check out our myspace and facebook pages, too. Just search for Opera Company of Philadelphia!
The Man Behind the Music: 6
Benjamin Britten A preeminent English composer of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten is especially known for his vocal and operatic music. Brittenâ€™s operas were the first internationally acclaimed operas written by an English composer since those of Henry Purcell in the seventeenth century. Britten was aware of his unique position, and he reverently paid tribute to his heritage by referencing compositional techniques of Purcell and the English compositional style. He also integrated the pervading European compositional techniques into his work, creating a new style of composing consciously rooted inhistory and tradition.
composer Frank Bridge. As a young adult he continued his training at the Royal College of Music, London beginning in 1930. During his college years, Britten honed his skills as a pianist and composer. A forward-thinking man, Britten wanted to expand his horizons from the rather conservative British school of music. He hoped to travel to study with Alban Berg, an avant-garde composer living in Vienna. His teacher and parents discouraged him from working with this musically radical influence. Although Britten heeded this advice and continued his studies in England, he retained his thirst for innovative compositional techniques throughout his life.
Benjamin Britten was born on November 22, 1913 in Lowestoft, Suffolk, which is on the east coast of the United Kingdom and approximately 3 hours from London by car. Britten displayed a desire to compose music at an early age and learned to play the piano and viola as a child. His parents encouraged his love of music, especially since his mother was an amateur singer. Britten began private composition lessons in 1927 with esteemed
Britten enjoyed artistic success from a young age. He composed prolifically and quickly developed a good business relationship with the music publishing firm Boosey and Hawkes. This partnership continued throughout his lifetime and produced a fruitful output. Throughout the 1930s, Britten formed an artistic collaboration with the poet W.H. Auden. In 1937, Britten met Peter Pears, a tenor who
Royal College of Music, London, where Britten began private composition lessons in 1927. Photo courtesy of David Iliff, Wikimeida Commons; license available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:GNU_Free_Documentation_License
would become his life-long musical collaborator and romantic partner. Pears would become the most influential figure in Britten’s life. Britten composed many song cycles for Pears (Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings). The roles of the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the title roles in Albert Herring and Peter Grimes were among the many roles written for and premiered by Pears. Living in Britain became increasingly difficult for Britten and Pears as the country prepared to enter World War II. Both men were pacifists and conscientiously objected from serving in the British military. True to his beliefs, Britten composed many works to promote peace throughout his life including his Pacifist March, Sinfonia, and War Requiem. In an effort to escape the impending war and find new avenues for musical triumph, Britten and Pears followed the path of some artist friends and left for North America in 1939. The pair did find much applause in America; Britten and Pears gave concerts in the U.S., and Britten added American elements to his compositional style. While success brought him acclaim and prestige, including the opportunity to premiere some of his works at Carnegie Hall, Britten also had some musical defeats in the United States. His first operatic composition, Paul Bunyan, met with negative reviews in New York in 1941. Britten and Pears returned to England in 1942. Even though the war was not yet over, Britten and Pears were recognized as pacifists and performed throughout the country as such until the war came to an end. Peter Grimes, Britten’s first large-scale opera premiered in London in 1945. Peter Grimes, a true grand opera in the tradition of Verdi and Puccini, was a triumph in London and abroad. In fact, it marked the rebirth of English opera. The work was a massive undertaking for a composer’s first operatic endeavor. Although it was wellreceived, Peter Grimes did also generate some resistance from the main-stream London musical establishment. Furthermore, opera was not a popular art form with English society. England was facing hard financial times after World War II, and London’s main opera company, Sadler’s Wells (a company that produced opera at Covent Garden) could not afford to produce new English opera because it did not attract a sizeable
Benjamin Britten at South Lodge School, Lowestoft, July 1924. Courtesy of The BrittenPears Foundation.
audience. Instead, the company produced popular classic operas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In light of these circumstances, Britten decided to gain financial and musical independence from the London mainstream by moving out of the large city and writing smaller chamber operas rather than grand operas. Chamber operas were much less expensive to produce and could still draw audiences for tours throughout England and the European Continent. In 1946, Britten worked with Eric Crozier (producer/director), Peter Pears (Tenor), and Joan Cross (soprano) to establish the Glyndebourne English Opera Group, which would produce new works, including those of Britten, and provide a place for singers and instrumentalists of the highest calibre to rehearse and perform contemporary operatic works between June and October. On July 12, 1946, The Rape of Lucretia premiered at the Glyndebourne Festival. This chamber opera called for only 8 singers and 13 instrumentalists. After its run at Glyndebourne, the small opera troupe toured The Rape of Lucretia around Europe. The production received positive reactions, but did not do well financially. This caused a rift with the funding institution and an end to Glyndebourne Festival collaborations.
Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in the audience at a school performance in Budapest, Hungary, 1964. Courtesy of The Britten-Pears Foundation
Britten and his collaborators soon formed an independent company with a similar goal to that of the Glyndebourne English Opera Company. The new group, called The English Opera Group, was formed in 1947 with the mission: “We believe the time has come when England, which has always depended on a repertory of foreign works, can create its own operas... We believe the best way to achieve the beginnings of a repertory of English operas is through the creation of a form of opera requiring small resources of singers and players, but suitable for performance in large or small houses or theaters… This Group will give annual seasons of contemporary opera in English and suitable classical works including those of Purcell. It is part of the group’s purpose to encourage young composers to write for the operatic stage, also to encourage poets and playwrights to tackle the problem of writing libretti in collaboration with composers.” During the summer of 1947, the group presented 51 performances throughout Britain and continental Europe. Although they were relatively successful, costs of touring became too high and left the English Opera Group with a large deficit. Since it was too expensive to tour the operas, Britten and Pears decided to organize their own festival in their new home town of Aldeburgh. In 1948, the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts began with a short (one week and two weekends) experimental program of chamber concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and the premiere of the opera Albert Herring. Britten and Pears were active performers at the festival. In fact, Britten conducted the opera, and Pears sang the title role in Albert Herring. The festival, and especially the opera, was an enormous sensation. The initial venue, Jubilee Hall, only held 290 people, barely enough seats to support an opera. Because of this size restraint, Britten and his collaborators remained constricted to the genre of chamber opera, which used a small cast and orchestra. This suited
Britten’s interests, and he championed chamber operas for the rest of his career. In 1966, the festival converted a group of old buildings in Aldeburgh into the Snape Maltings concert hall, which could seat hundreds of more people than Jubilee Hall. To this day, the world-class Aldeburgh festival is a center for music education and performance. The Turn of the Screw is an example of one of Britten’s operas written for this festival. Britten wrote many works besides opera: song cycles, choral works, chamber pieces, string quartets, orchestral works, and concertos. Conscious of his English compositional heritage, Britten often arranged new versions of old songs. For example, he published arrangements of songs by Henry Purcell with his own piano accompaniment. Britten’s modern written-out piano accompaniments provide a fresh, personalized rendition of Baroque songs. Britten also composed a modern version of the famous English ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay (1728). These are only a few examples of the many songs from folk, popular and classical genres that Britten marked with his personal stamp. Britten and Pears eventually performed concerts all over the world, and their travels opened their eyes to new types of music and different cultures. The Balinese Gamelan and the Japanese Noh plays especially piqued Britten’s interest. He used these influences in some of his later works including The Prince of the Pagodas and “Songs from the Chinese.” The Aldeburgh Festival highlights Britten’s devotion to the training and development of young musicians and the general public. It was important to him to help children learn about music in a practical, fun way. He wrote The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra to teach amateur musicians and children about the symphony. He composed a pirate story, The Golden Vanity, for the Vienna Boys’ Choir. His Noye’s Fludde is an orchestral piece written for professional musicians to play together with children. It tells the story of Noah’s ark and includes fun percussive “kitchen instruments” for the children to play. Britten included a children’s chorus in his famous War Requiem to stress the importance of children as part of the whole of society and a symbol of purity, innocence and peace.
Britten and Pears moved into the Red House (a nickname for the house in Aldeburgh where they would live for the rest of their lives) in 1957. Late in life, Britten suffered from a heart condition that ultimately led to his death on December 7, 1976. After Britten passed away, Peter Pears continued to live in the Red House until his own death in 1986. Britten’s affinity for the town of Aldeburgh can be grasped from a line of the speech he gave upon receiving the first Aspen Award in 1964, “But I belong at home – there – in Aldeburgh. I have tried to bring music to it in the shape of our local Festival; and all the music I write comes from it. I believe in roots, in associations, in backgrounds, in personal relationships.” Britten’s work was his life. He had an extremely disciplined work ethic, and rarely a day went by when he did not work. He composed a large output while also performing as a pianist and conductor. He preferred to surround himself with friends and avoided living in large cities that applauded the musical and social mainstream culture. He found his own musical niche with his partner, Peter Pears, and his Aldeburgh music festival.
Peter Pears Peter Pears was a tenor and organist born in 1910 in Farnham, England. After initially being denied admission to one school of singing because of his small voice, he went on to study singing at the Royal College of Music. When he met Benjamin Britten in 1934, Pears was working as part of the BBC singers. The two became friends a few years later and gave their first concert in 1937, with Pears singing and Britten at the piano. From that time on, they worked as a very successful performance team and developed a close personal relationship that would span Britten’s lifetime. Pears was an inspiration for much of Britten’s vocal music. Pears also developed an excellent solo career as a singer of Lieder, art song and oratorio.
Operas of Benjamin Britten
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Paul Bunyan (1941, revised 1976) Peter Grimes (1945) The Rape of Lucretia (1946) Albert Herring (1947) The Beggar’s Opera (1948) Let’s Make an Opera! (1949) Dido and Aeneas (1951) The Wandering Scholar (1951) Billy Budd (1951, revised in 1960) Gloriana (1953) The Turn of the Screw (1954) Noye’s Fludde (1958) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960) Church Parables: Curlew River (1964), The Burning Fiery Furnace (1966) The Prodigal Son (1968) Owen Wingrave (1970) Death in Venice (1974)
Soprano Karen Jesse (center) in Curtis Opera Theater’s production of Britten’s Albert Herring. Photo: Courtesy of The Curtis Institute of Music
Britten lived between 1913 and 1976. Listed below are some historic and cultural events that took place during his lifetime. Events in boldface type are things that happened to Britten, an asterisk (*) indicates events of local interest. Discuss what it might have been like to be alive during the time period. How would your life be different or the same? How did the inventions of the time affect daily life?
Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft, England. Henry Ford invented the assembly line.
1914 1919 1923 1925 1927
World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The Treaty of Versailles was signed, signifying the end of World War I. The Jazz Singer premiered as the first talking movie. Adolf Hitler published his two volume autobiographical political testament Mein Kampf. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to make a solo nonstop transatlantic flight. Benjamin Britten began composition studies with Frank Bridge.
Mickey Mouse cartoons began with the movie Steamboat Willie. New York Stock Market on Wall Street crashed, devastating the lives of thousands of investors. Scotch tape was patented.
1930 1933 * 1937
Britten entered the Royal College of Music, London. The first drive-in movie theater opened on June 6th on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Pennsauken, NJ. Britten wrote the Pacifist March. Britten met Peter Pears in March while a member of the BBC Singers.
Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), the Nazi operation to attack Jewish people and their property, occurred in Germany. Britten and Pears left England for North America. World War II began when Germany invaded Poland. NBC became the first network to introduce regular television broadcasts.
Japanese naval planes attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Britten’s first opera, Paul Bunyan, premiered at Columbia University in New York City.
1942 1943 1944 1945
Britten and Pears returned to England. Two-piece bathing suits were introduced in the US as a result of a government order to reduce the amount of fabric used in women’s swim suits by ten percent as a wartime measure. The Invasion of Normandy (D-Day) led to the establishment of Allied Forces in France. Peter Grimes, Britten’s first major opera, premiered in London. Nazi forces surrender to Allied Forces in Italy on April 29 and in Western Europe on May 7. The United States dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
The Rape of Lucretia premiered at the Glyndebourne Festival. Britten’s Peter Grimes received its American premiere on August 26th at the Berkshire Festival in Tanglewood, Massachusetts.
Benjamin Britten playing tennis with the artist Mary Potter outside his home, The Red House, in the mid-1950s. Courtesy of The Britten-Pears Foundation.
Britten formed the English Opera Group with librettist Eric Crozier and John Piper. The microwave oven was first patented in the United States by Percy Spencer.
Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Eric Crozier produced the first Aldeburgh Festival. * Chief Halftown began his children’s TV program on WPVI-TV, Channel 6, in Philadelphia. It ran until 1999.
1952 1955 1958 1959 1960 1963
The car seat belt was introduced by the Ford Motor Company. The McDonalds fast food restaurant was founded by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Popular American performer Madonna was born on August 16th as Madonna Louise Ciccone. Unpopular American Idol judge Simon Cowell was born on October 7th in Brighton, East Sussex, England. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden took over management of the English Opera Group. Britten’s operatic version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival.
1964 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. 1967 * Philadelphia’s The Spectrum sports arena opened at 3601 S Broad Street on October 19th. Popular British rock band The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show during their first visit to the US at the 1968 height of “Beatlemania.”
1969 1970 1972 1973 1974
On June 30th NASA’s Apollo 13 expedition put Neil Armstrong,, the first man ever, on the moon. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. First Earth Day was celebrated in the United States. Cable channel Home Box Office (HBO) first began broadcasting in New York City. Death in Venice, Britten’s last opera, premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival. The first personal computer was invented by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who went on to found Apple Computers. * The Philadelphia Flyers won their first Stanley Cup Championship.
American actress and film producer Drew Barrymore was born on February 22. * The Philadelphia Flyers won their second Stanley Cup Championship. * The Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company and the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company joined forces to create the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Britten died of natural causes on December 4 in Aldeburgh with Peter Pears present.
Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten in Brooklyn Heights, New York c. 1940. Courtesy The Britten-Pears Foundation
Britten said himself, “I do not write for posterity – in any case, the outlook for that is somewhat uncertain. I write music, now, in Aldeburgh, for people living there, and further afield, indeed for anyone who cares to play it or listen to it. But my music now has its roots, in where I live and work.” What was happening during Britten’s “now?” What social and political circumstances inevitably impacted his music? When Benjamin Britten was born, England was still enjoying the benefits of the preceding peaceful and prosperous time period, the Victorian Era (1837-1901, Queen Victoria’s reign). During this era, the British Empire expanded abroad and industry boomed at home. The conditions made way for the education of the middle class. Although World War I began in 1914, this warfare did not take place on British soil, and the defeat of the Germans actually led the British Empire to acquire some of the German and Ottoman colonies. With these additions, the British Empire reached its peak size, and the country continued to bask in prosperity. It was World War II that brought economic and social damage to England. Tensions leading up to the war caused much distress among the British people. It was within this context that Britten registered as a conscientious objector with the British government and left the country for North America without the intention of returning. Britten fled with good reason. World War II was devastating for Europe during the time that Britten and Pears were in the United States. It could have been even more devastating for England if the Nazis had won the Battle of Britain. The Battle of Britain was waged during the summer and autumn of 1940, while Britten
and Pears were in the United States. This battle was a sustained bombing campaign by the Nazis fought entirely by air forces within British airspace. Great Britain sustained great losses, as 27,450 civilians were killed and 32,138 were wounded. Most bombings by the German forces were made during daylight hours for greater accuracy in defeating the British military’s infrastructure, terrorizing the British public, and attacking politically influential structures. The British won a decisive victory, and Germany withdrew its forces and their plans to forge marine or land assaults. This victory ultimately spared Britain from German occupation and homeland battle. Still, Britain endured harsh financial and social consequences from the war. During the war years, Covent Garden (London’s most prominent opera house) was used merely as a dance hall and held no performances. One of Britten’s greatest successes was a choral piece called The War Requiem. This piece was first performed in 1962 at the consecration of the reconstructed Coventry Cathedral (which was damaged during the bombings of WWII). After WWII, Britain was left financially damaged for the first time in many years. The government responded to this by creating a Welfare State to fight the five “giant evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease (as stated in the William Beveridge Report of 1942). This policy charged the government with the responsibility of caring for its people’s health, education, employment, and similar issues. The logical effect was an increase in taxes and government regulations in the country. The welfare state lasted through the 1970s, at which point Margaret Thatcher changed the policy towards privatization. Although the global political power of England decreased during this time, the English language spread throughout the world and that, combined with the country’s pop culture tradition, had a striking world-wide influence. Also, many people from the British Commonwealth moved to the United Kingdom, making the country much more diverse than it had been previously. Despite severe difficulties, Britain maintained its appeal throughout the twentieth century.
Opera Terms 1.
Dance spectacle set to music.
Highest pitched woman’s voice.
Dramatic text adapted for opera.
Low female voice.
A drama or comedy in which music is the essential factor; very little is spoken.
Opera with dramatic and intense plots.
Music composed for a singing group.
A composition written for two performers.
A group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments.
Highest pitched man’s voice.
A musical style used in opera and oratorio, in which the text is declaimed in the rhythm of natural speech with slight melodic variation.
M. Male voice between bass and tenor.
A piece of music originally designed to be played before an opera or musical play.
The term describing the realistic or naturalistic school of opera that flourished briefly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; libretti were chosen to depict a ‘slice of life’.
Deepest male voice.
Elaborate solo in an opera or oratorio.
Main division of a play or opera.
Creating Lucretia In 1946, the music magazine Tempo published an article about Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia written by Eric Crozier, one of the founding members of the English Opera Group. Please read the following excerpt from the article and then use the information you’ve learned to answer the response questions. “Next July will bring the first production of Benjamin Britten’s second opera, ‘The Rape of Lucretia,’ to a libretto by Ronald Duncan. This will be a full-length opera in two acts. It will be presented for a short festival season at the Glyndebourne Opera House, after which it will be performed in various provincial cities, perhaps later in London and, it is hoped, on the Continent. ‘The Rape of Lucretia’ will demand much smaller resources in its performance than ‘Peter Grimes.’ It has been planned as the first of what may grow to be a succession of operas by contemporary composers, for performance during annual summer seasons by the newly-formed Glyndebourne English Opera Company. The most uncommon feature of the new opera is the deliberate limitation of its material requirements to a small cast of singers and an orchestra of twelve soloists consisting of a string quartet, wind quintet, harp and percussion.” Before describing the construction and plot of ‘Lucretia,’ it must be said that the aim of the Glyndebourne English opera Company is to complement, and in no way to rival or replace English performances of classical or modern
Nancy Evans and Kathleen Ferrier undertake a costume fitting for Act 2 Scene 2 of the first production of The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne, July 1946. Photo courtesy The Britten-Pears Foundation
work, on a larger scale that are being given, and will continue to be given by existing operatic companies. Nor is it the purpose of those concerned with the new enterprise to disassociate themselves from large-scale opera. They aim at extending the actual scope of British opera by providing occasion for the composition and performance of smaller works than are usually staged here, and they are conscious that the very limitation of their resources will demand a higher standard of execution than is generally obtainable with large works.… The staple business of British opera companies has been to provide versions of large-scale operas that were originally composed with all the resources of Continental theatres at their disposal. In England, it has been a hard struggle to match the cost of staging these works against uncertain box-office takings – a struggle in which quality has suffered at the expense of quantity. Few of our young singers begin their careers with the training necessary for first-class interpretation of classical opera roles. They are hampered by the lack of any vital operatic tradition in this country, by the unsuitability of many of our theatre-buildings for opera, and by the indifferent orchestras that are the best our managements can afford to employ. A bad small orchestra makes more actual noise than a good large one, and is harder to sing through. The principal belief that has inspired the creation of the new English Opera Company is that it is possible and desirable to develop a kind of British opera that will explore the vital native qualities of the English voice and language. For this, the clear singing of good English will be essential. This will increase the importance of the librettist, since every word of his text should be heard.
Vitality in any art is independent of size. The initial scale of the new venture has been kept as small as possible, for during the present transition period, it is only on a small scale that the principles of high quality in singing, musicianship, and preparation can be reconciled with the regular performance of new works. In the first year, only one opera will be presented; later it is intended to add other new operas to the
repertory, and to revive neglected classical works that are rarely performed by larger organizations. If present hopes are realized, the annual seasons of the new company will offer a focus for outstanding new work in composition, musical performance, production and design, and our composers will be encouraged to write operas on a scale adapted to contemporary conditions, with the certainty of exact performance.
RESPONSE QUESTIONS What is the most uncommon feature of this opera according to Crozier?___________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Until 1946, what had been the standard approach to staging operas in England? Are English or foreign operas usually staged? Are these large or small-scale operas? ______________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
What are the problems that English companies encounter when staging large-scale foreign operas? __________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
What is the principal belief that inspired the creation of the English Opera Company? Whose role does this emphasize? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ What does Crozier state as the cause of the small scale of the operas produced by the company? _______________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Who’s Who in
The Rape of Lucretia MALE CHORUS (tenor) and FEMALE CHORUS (soprano) Most operas have a chorus, i.e., a group of singers, who may play villagers or onlookers and who sing portions of the opera as a choir. The Rape of Lucretia does not have a chorus in this sense. However, the two characters called the Male Chorus and Female Chorus function as a Greek chorus. In ancient Greek dramas a group of dancers and singers represented the general public and commented on the action, offering background information, and showing how an ideal audience might react to the drama. Similarly, the Male and Female Choruses in The Rape of Lucretia explain some of the historical
background of the opera. They describe and comment on the action, sometimes egging on a character or interpreting and judging a character’s motives and actions. Britten and his librettist Ronald Duncan took this concept from André Obey’s play Le Viol de Lucrece, the most immediate source for the opera. Obey’s play uses two narrators, one male and one female, as a dramatic device; the male narrator is allied with the male characters, the female narrator with the female characters. In addition, the Chorus in the opera is unabashedly Christian. The Male and Female Choruses explain that their role is to interpret the action of the opera from a Christian perspective. Indeed, at the end of the opera, they sing of Christ’s forgiveness.
CHARACTERS IN THE STORY Many of the characters in the opera are mentioned in ancient works of literature, including Livy’s great The History of Rome, which was written 500 years after the events recounted in the opera. The story may or may not have actually happened, but Livy related it as an historical event. Like Livy, many writers consider the rape of Lucretia by Tarquinius to be the catalyst that caused the Romans to revolt against the Etruscan kings and establish the Roman Republic. Below are descriptions of the opera’s characters along with brief sketches of the historical characters on which they are based. COLLATINUS (bass) Husband of Lucretia. A Roman commander, political rival and close colleague of his fellow commander, Junius. The historical character Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus Lucretia’s husband is said to have been a cousin or possibly a nephew of Tarquinius Superbus, the Etruscan King; he was therefore related to the king’s son, Sextus Tarquinius, who is the Tarquinius of the opera. After Lucretia’s rape and suicide the Tarquins were banished and two consuls were elected to JUNIUS (baritone) A Roman commander, colleague of Collatinus. Junius is upset that his wife has been unfaithful to him. An ambitious man, he is afraid that Collatinus may gain power and influence thanks to Lucretia’s good reputation. Junius goads Tarquinius into putting Lucretia’s fidelity to the test. When Lucretia kills herself, it is Junius who incites the Romans to rebel against the Etruscans.
govern Rome. They were Lucretia’s husband, Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, and Lucius Junius Brutus - the Junius of the opera, who is more often called Brutus. However, the people of Rome didn't trust anyone with the name Tarquinius, even though Collatinus had been wronged by Tarquinius, and Brutus himself was more closely related to the Tarquins than Collatinus! Brutus, along with Lucretia’s father, persuaded Collatinus to resign, and a new consul, Publius Valerius Poplicola, was appointed.
The historical character Lucius Junius Brutus Although he is called Junius in the opera, he is known as Brutus in many of the historical sources and other accounts of the story of Lucretia. He should not be confused with his descendent, Marcus Junius Brutus, who assassinated Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Lucius Junius Brutus is the legendary Roman hero who established Republican government at Rome by
17 driving out the last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus in 509 BC. After Lucretia killed herself, Brutus seized the moment and revealed his true character; he snatched the dagger from the wound, swore to drive out the royal family, and spearheaded the PRINCE TARQUINIUS (baritone) Tarquinius, the Etruscan Prince of Rome, is the son of the Etruscan Tyrant Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud). During the events of the opera, Tarquinius was a commander in a war between Rome and the nearby city of Ardea. By raping Lucretia, Tarquinius set off the rebellion that cost his father the throne and sent the Tarquins into exile. The historical character Sextus Tarquinius Sextus Tarquinius was the youngest of the three sons of Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), the seventh and last king of Rome, ruling from 534 to 510 B.C. Tarquinius Superbus had seized power by killing the previous king, Servius Tullius, who was his father-in-law (His wife, Tullia, was his eager coconspirator). Tarquinius Superbus violence, and murder.
LUCRETIA (contralto) The wife of Collatinus, Lucretia was the only woman found behaving virtuously when some of the commanders paid a surprise visit to Rome to see whether their wives were being faithful in their absence. The historical character Lucretia A paragon of beauty, virtue, domesticity, honor, and civic responsibility, Lucretia spins cloth with her maids, pines for her husband, and generally
rebellion that sent the Tarquins into exile and established the Roman Republic. Brutus was elected one of the first two Roman consuls after the rebellion. Later he sentenced his own sons to death for conspiring to restore the Tarquins to the throne.
Sextus Tarquinius was as bad as his father. Livy says he had helped his father conquer the city of Gabii by pretending he needed protection from his father. Having obtained the trust of the citizens of Gabii, he sent a messenger to his father asking what he should do next. His father replied not in words, but by walking up and down his garden, striking off the heads of the tallest poppies. Sextus took this as his cue to kill the leaders of the city and hand the city over to his father. Livy relates that after the rebellion, Sextus Tarquinius returned to Gabii, which he looked upon as his kingdom, but was killed in revenge. During the events of the opera, Tarquinius Superbus was trying to conquer the nearby city of Ardea in order to acquire its wealth (he had been building many magnificent but expensive public works and also wanted to appease his subjects by distributing some of the spoils of war). Sextus Tarquinius was a commander in that war. represents the perfect Roman matron, even choosing death rather than dishonor. Her rape and suicide were widely considered the spark that set off the revolt against the Tarquins, leading to the establishment of the Roman Republic. In many accounts, Lucretia is a minor character, important only as the straw that broke the camel’s back the flashpoint that set off the revolution.
BIANCA, Lucretia's nurse (mezzo-soprano), LUCIA, Lucretia's maid (soprano) Bianca is Lucretia’s nurse and Lucia (pronounced caring women feature in some of the opera’s most LOO-sha) is her maid. Lucretia’s two servants are charming scenes of domestic tranquility. very devoted to their mistress. These loyal and
Portions from Pacific Opera Victoria’s Educational Study Guide for The Rape of Lucretia
Fill in the Blanks
Listen to Track 1 of your teacher’s Audio CD to complete this lesson. In this recitative, the Male Chorus describes the state of affairs in Rome circa 530 B.C. and sets the stage for the opera. After listening to the recording, fill in the missing words to complete the following statements. You may use the word bank at the bottom of the page
_________________ is ruled by the Tarquins, a powerful Etruscan family. The king is _____________________ ______________________________. His predecessor was _______________________. He divided the ________________ ______________ by agreeing with every faction. He climbed his way to the top of the Roman political structure through bribery, false flattery, and ______________. He married the king’s _________________________, and then killed her. Next, he married his murdered wife’s ________________, who had murdered her own husband. The newlyweds swiftly murdered ________________ ______________ and ascended to the throne. The new monarchs of Rome governed by ___________________. Their son ________________ ______________ is a pugnacious general who wages superfluous wars without shame. Tarquinius Sextus now leads a campaign against the _____________.
Word Bank Daughter Greeks king
murder Roman Court Rome
Servius sister Tarquinius Sextus
Tarquinius Superbus Terror
Lucretia’s Family Tree
Match the following letter to the family tree: A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I.
The Etruscan family that ruled Rome circa 550 BC. Members from tribes outside of the Etruscan tribe who were also living in the city of Rome. The former King of Rome who was killed by his son-in-law. The current King of Rome who married one of the king’s daughters, killed her, and then married the king’s other daughter. The daughter of the King of Rome who was murdered by her husband. The daughter of the King of Rome who plotted with her husband to kill her father in order to gain immediate access to the throne. The violent Prince of Rome. A Roman woman who embodies the ideals of a virtuous woman. She kills herself after being assaulted by Tarquinius. The husband of Lucretia
Historical Figures Mentioned in the Opera TARQUINS
King Servius Tullius
In antiquity, before the Romans came to power in Italy, much of the Italian peninsula was controlled by the Etruscans, or Tyrrhenians (in Greek), who comprised a highly developed civilization that may have evolved around 1,000 B.C. The Etruscans lived in the area now called Tuscany, which extends throughout the western part of Italy from the Tiber River (in modern-day Rome) to the Arno (in modern-day Florence). The Etruscans inhabited small city-states, usually at the top of a steep hill and surrounded by a thick wall for protection. They formed coalitions among the city-states and governed themselves by a council of elected officials, which is now referred to as the Etruscan League of 12 cities. The exact cities are not known for sure, but the map on the opposite page displays the 12 cities most likely in the league. The council only met once a year,
A large amphora, or two-handled storage jar, from the 6th century BC. This amphora is on display at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
however, and the league was a loose collaboration rather than an influential, united government. The city-states, therefore, were essentially selfgoverned. During its origins, Rome was a system of villages inhabited by Etruscans and other tribes.
The Etruscans were just one of many tribes, but they had the most important influence on Roman art, culture, religion, and ideas because of their prosperous and well-developed civilization. Their religion included divination of the future and a system of gods based on that of the Greeks. The Etruscans had their own sophisticated language, which still has not been deciphered by scholars completely. Most of their written documents were destroyed. Therefore, scholars study their artifacts, city walls, inscriptions, statues, jewelry, homes and tombs to learn about the culture. Most of what we learn about the Etruscans from written sources was recorded by the Greeks and Romans. Since the Greeks and Romans were enemies of the Etruscans, they probably wrote with a strong bias against them. This must be taken into consideration when reading ancient descriptions of the Etruscans, especially negative ones. Life for elite Etruscans was quite luxurious. Because the Etruscans were able to use engineering and agricultural techniques to transform arid or swampy land into farmable land, they were able to become a successful and sustainable agricultural society. The Etruscans used their large and well-managed military to control neighboring tribes. They conquered their neighbors and had them do their difficult farm work. Free from the burden of this daily agricultural work, the Etruscans were free to focus on commerce and trade. Trade was conducted largely by sea and included Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. Within this system, the Etruscans prospered and expanded their influence and power. The most highly prized Etruscan commodities were bronze and gold, which were sold in places as far away as Sweden.
Dining was a central part of Etruscan life for noble Etruscan families as well as merchants and landowners. Etruscans had fancy, embroidered tablecloths and special meats and fish at their feasts. It is believed that the Etruscans introduced grapes to the Italian peninsula in the 9th century B.C., and grapes
and wine (and the appropriate serving wares) were therefore strongly associated with the ethnic group. Music permeated social, religious, and ceremonial aspects of the Etruscan lifestyle. Percussion, wind, brass and string instruments
Map of the Etruscan League of 12 Cities. Photo, courtesy Wikimedia Commons, Norman Einstein, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
are depicted through drawings of the time. Instruments played by the Etruscans included ancient flutes, horns, bells, castanets, and lyres. Sporting events, hunting activities, funerals, and banquets all featured live music as a significant part of the celebration. Scholars believe that dance and theater were closely tied to music and thrived as forms of entertainment in Etruscan times.
The items on these pages can be seen at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
In the seventh century B.C., Etruscan men dressed very much like Greek men, wearing a robe that knotted in the front. This evolved into the Etruscan Tebenna, a tunic with a large, heavily embroidered cape over the shoulders. The Romans adopted this style of dress and called it the toga. Etruscan women wore a floor-length tunic that was usually pleated and embroidered at the edges. They placed a heavier, colorful mantle piece over the tunic. Both sexes wore high sandals and ankle boots. Wool hats were very popular, and the type of hat reflected a personâ€™s social class. Partrician class Etruscan women wore magnificent jewelry. Their earrings, necklaces, and bracelets were the most beautiful jewelry in all of Europe.
Above: a decorative bronze shield from the 7th century BC. Below: a stone sarcophagus found in the Musarna region showing a bejeweled woman reclining as if for a banquet. Next page: a bronze hand mirror from Praeneste dating from the 4th century BC.
The Etruscans meticulously planned their cities in grid-like structures complete with sewage lines. They had underground water pipes and under floor heating. In terms of architecture, the Etruscans introduced the arch structure to the Italian Peninsula. They lived in single story houses with stone foundations and walls of wood
and clay. The Etruscans painted frescoes on the interior and exterior of their houses. Horses were very important for gaming (races), transportation, and warfare. The Etruscans paid special attention to caring for their horses and made them decorated bridles and other equipment. Horses are also depicted in many important Etruscan scenes. Although the Etruscans gained much power throughout the ninth, eighth and seventh centuries B.C., they did not maintain that power throughout the following centuries. The end of the sixth and beginning of the fifth centuries B.C. was the decisive moment of the Etruscan civilization. In Rome particularly (according to the Romans), the Etruscans were known for their violent ruling techniques and extravagant lifestyles. The traits of the royal family in Rome, the Tarquins, fostered feelings of resentment and rebellion among those people who were not of Etruscan heritage. Eventually, the Romans revolted against the Tarquin dynasty circa 500 B.C. According to the story provided from the Roman perspective, Sextus Tarquinius, the Etruscan prince of Rome, was leading an offensive for his father, Tarquinius Superbus, against the neighboring town of Andrea. The motive of this assault was to ravage the city of its riches and distribute the spoils to the Etruscan people in Rome. This measure was done in hopes to appease the populous in light of recent extravagant spending for royal activities and construction. When Tarquinius raped Lucretia, a chaste Roman woman, he epitomized the violence of the Etruscans and incited revenge. Lucretia’s husband
spearheaded a revolution that led to the overthrow of Tarquinius Superbus and the consequent foundation of the Roman Republic. After the fall of the ruling Etruscan family in Rome and the rise of the Roman Republic, the Etruscans took to the sea, and eventually lost their power in the Italian peninsula. Although much of the evidence of their civilization is lost, the Etruscan influence shaped the foundation of the Roman Republic and remains visible even today.
SPECIAL THANKS We at the Opera Company of Philadelphia are greatly indebted to Dr. Jean MacIntosh Turfa, Curatorial Consultant for the Etruscan Collections and Exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Dr. Turfa helped us with our research on Etruscan civilization and even gave us a guided tour of the fascinating Etruscan collection at the museum. She’s a wealth of knowledge and made the Etruscans come to life for us. If you get the chance, please set aside a day to explore the Museum with your classmates or your family. It’s well worth the trip! If you see Dr. Turfa, tell her we said hello! You can find out more about the museum on their web site: http://www.museum.upenn.edu/
Julia Madden (r.) visits with Dr. Jean MacIntosh Turfa (l.) of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Spotlight on Nathan Gunn By Julia Madden
Nathan Gunn is one of the most popular stars in opera. This year alone, the talented baritone will perform with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Houston Grand Opera, the Los Angeles Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. People can’t get enough of his rich, beautiful low voice. Just a few years ago, Nathan’s success landed him on the cover of Opera News, the equivalent of Sports Illustrated for the opera world! So how would you imagine this famous singer’s upbringing to have been? Perhaps he grew up in Germany and went to see operas twice a week as a child? No way! Maybe he started accepting roles obtained through a Manhattan talent agent at the age of five? Wrong again! Nathan Gunn had what most people consider to be an all-American childhood. He played many sports including football, tennis, wrestling and soccer. He also studied the martial arts. He went to a Catholic high school in South Bend, where he was asked to sing in the choir and try out for the musical productions because of his vocal talent. Although he performed with these groups (and often sang the leading roles), acting and singing were just a part of his extracurricular activities. Singing opera as a living was not one of his goals as a high school student. As a teenager, Nathan often did odd jobs in the summer while school was not in session. One summer, Nathan’s mom suggested that he train his voice so that he could earn some money by singing for special events such as weddings. Little did Nathan know that these voice lessons would eventually lead him down the path to an operatic career. It was at a summer opera workshop at Indiana University (a very well-respected music school) that Nathan had his first experience with opera, specifically Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He was asked to perform the role of Papageno and loved it! A smart, well-rounded young man, Nathan decided to apply to the United States Air Force Academy for college. Given his good experiences with music, he also chose to apply to some top tier music schools around the country. As luck and preparation would have it, Nathan was granted admission to every school to which he applied! He decided to go to the University of Illinois School of Music, where he studied art song (that’s classical
song repertoire that is not opera.) While he was in college, two wonderful things happened. First, he met a talented pianist named Julie. The two were married before Nathan graduated college. Second, he received the training he needed to gain entrance into the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program in New York City shortly after graduation. During his experience at the Met, Nathan was grabbed by opera and realized how much musical fulfillment it gave him. Nathan loved tackling the challenges presented through opera and made the decision to dedicate his career to being an opera singer. While in New York, Nathan learned to study stagecraft and prepare for an opera role through a series of steps. When initially offered a part, Nathan reads the story of the opera and decides if he likes it. Next, he looks at the music to see if the part suits his voice. Once he decides to accept a role, he starts very early in learning the notes without worrying about the words or committing the piece to memory. Nathan compares learning the notes to training as an athlete. At first, a new role is quite demanding and challenging to sing. But after working the notes and the technique into his voice, his body becomes efficient at singing those particular notes in that sequence. Once that hard technical work is done, the words and memory fall into place. Nathan always pays careful attention to the fine details of an opera’s story as well as to the music he has to perform. He contemplates what the story is about on many different levels. He studies the character’s journey in the story, both vocally and physically. Nathan loves words and poetry involved in opera, not justmusic! Nathan’s favorite part of being an opera singer is the actual performing. He believes that opera can be one of the most powerful genres in the performing arts and loves communicating its deep stories and emotions to an audience. Nathan also thrives on the learning involved in opera singing. And, of course, he likes to see new places and meet new people. For him, the opera stage is certainly a “nice office”! Nathan’s least favorite part of the job is the traveling. Nathan and Julie have five children now. He and his family live in the town of Champaign, Illinois. It makes sense, then, that Nathan does not like all of the traveling involved with the career of opera singing. Singers are
singing twice as much now as they ever have. That means more plane trips and more time spent away from home.
Hearing Nathan speak about his operatic preparation and his family, I couldn’t help but wonder how he felt about playing the role of Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia. After all, it cannot be easy for such a good man to play the part of someone who commits a heinous act. When I asked Nathan this question, his response was quite eye opening. Nathan sees Tarquinius as “caught between a rock and a hard place.” In Nathan’s opinion, Junius is the villain of the opera. Junius believes that women are chaste only when they are not tempted. (In this case, chaste means faithful to one’s spouse.) According to Junius, all women would break their vows of chastity if tempted. Tarquinius does not believe this. He loves Lucretia and trusts that she is beautiful and chaste. She would never betray her husband, Collatinus. In the beginning of the opera, Junius makes a bet with Tarquinius that Lucretia is not chaste. The only way to prove that she is faithful to her husband is to test her. In proving that she cannot be seduced, however, Tarquinius must destroy the person that he loves. If he does not prove Lucretia to be chaste, then Tarquinius loses his honor by not following through with his bet with Junius. With any other girl, the conflict would not have been present. It is because Lucretia is chaste and beautiful that the conflict exists. Tarquinius is at a crossroads in his life. He is already a crooked person, but his choice to follow through with the rape of Lucretia determines the path for the rest of his life and
Photo: Bill Phelps
When asked about how having a large family affects his career, Nathan replied without hesitation that it makes it easier. Going from singing a famous opera role to changing a diaper keeps things in perspective for him! Working within a family unit means sharing space and time and taking care of fellow family members. It helps people learn to accommodate the needs of others; it’s not possible to have it always your way in a large family. This balance follows him throughout his career. For example, it is no problem for Nathan to give up singing with a big orchestra if it means that he can be at his daughter’s graduation. After all, opera is not about being sophisticated and pretentious. It tells the stories of the basest parts of the human condition. It explores all types of human experiences. It is real life and real problems put on stage. defines him as a corrupt person. In the end, Tarquinius kills the one person that he thought was perfect. Tarquinius is not a one-dimensional evil person, though. He is a person who made poor choices when under pressure. I asked Nathan for some advice he had for the high school students coming to see this opera. He suggested that students thoroughly read the libretto, although it is complicated. Reach below the surface of the words to see the actual meaning of the opera rather than just what is happening on the stage. Then, watch the opera and see how the story unfolds. For more information about Nathan, visit his web site at www.nathangunn.com
Fast Facts About Nathan Gunn Hometown: Champaign, Illinois Parents: Walter and Nancy Siblings: Two sisters, Natalie and Noelle Favorite Books: The Count of Monte Christo, Gates of Fire, Power of One Favorite Movie: Moonstruck Favorite Singer: Tony Bennett (because of the way that he tells a story) Favorite Composers: Benjamin Britten and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Favorite Roles: Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and the title role in Britten’s Billy Budd
LUCRETIA Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano OCP Debut
MALE CHORUS William Burden, tenor Eisenstein, Die Fledermaus Faust, Faust Nadir, The Pearl Fishers Ferrando, Così fan tutte Alfredo, La traviata
(2005) (2004) (2004) (2003) (2003)
COLLATINUS Ben Wager, bass OCP Debut
BIANCA Allison Sanders, mezzo-soprano Clotilda, Norma (2008) Giovanna, Rigoletto (2007) Annie, Porgy and Bess (2007)
DIRECTOR Will Kerley OCP Debut
for more information on the artists, visit www.operaphila.org/0809-production5.shtml
TARQUINIAS Nathan Gunn, baritone Zurga, The Pearl Fishers (2004) Guglielmo, Così fan tutte (2003)
FEMALE CHORUS Karen Jesse, soprano OCP Debut
JUNIUS Eric T. Dubin, baritone Marquis de Brisaille, Cyrano (2008)
LUCIA Rinnat Moriah, soprano OCP Debut
CONDUCTOR David Hayes OCP Debut
Photos of Tamara Mumford courtesy Dave Cross Photography; Nathan Gunn courtesy Bill Phelps; William Burden, courtesy Lisa Kohler
The Rape of Lucretia
The Male and Female Choruses recount how Tarquinius Superbus seized Rome and how his son Tarquinius Sextus became a warrior leader.
Lucia, when she thinks she hears a knock at the gate. As the women prepare for bed, Tarquinius is at the door. He asks for wine and lodging, saying that his horse is lame, and Lucretia gives him a room for the night.
Scene 1 - In an army camp outside Rome
Act II, Scene 1 - At Collatinus’ house in Rome
Act I, Prologue
Tarquinius, Collatinus, and Junius are drinking and talking together. The previous night, six generals had ridden home unexpectedly to Rome to check on their wives, all of whom were caught betraying their husbands. The exception was Collatinus’ wife, Lucretia. Junius, whose wife was among the faithless majority, argues with young Tarquinius but is stopped by Collatinus who wishes to toast his wife. Junius is frustrated by all of the praise for Lucretia and leaves the discussion. Collatinus soon joins him and rebukes his poor attitude. The two shake hands and are joined by a drunken Tarquinius. Collatinus leaves them to retire and they begin to talk again of Lucretia. Tarquinius announces "I'll prove her chaste!" and calls for his horse.
Scene 2 - At Collatinus’ house in Rome Lucretia is sewing with her servants Bianca and
As Lucretia sleeps, Tarquinius creeps into her bedroom and awakens her with a kiss. She asks him to leave and they struggle until Tarquinius draws his sword and forces himself on her.
Scene 2 - At Collatinus’ house in Rome The following morning, Lucia and Bianca are glad to discover that Tarquinius has already left the house and go about arranging flowers. Lucretia enters in a trance-like state. She is repulsed by the flowers, and chooses an orchid to be sent to Collatinus, bitterly saying that it represents her purity. Bianca tries to stop the messenger, but Collatinus has already arrived at his home with Junius, who alerted him that Tarquinius had left the army camp. Lucretia enters in mourning and tells Collatinus what has happened. He forgives her, but she stabs herself to death.
Mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford as Lucretia in a production of the opera at The Châteauville Foundation Photo: Giuseppe Di Liberto, courtesy The Châteauville Foundation
Chose Your Words Wisely 48
Ronald Duncan (1914-1982) modeled his libretto for Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia on Andre Obey’s (1892-1975) play, Le Viol de Lucrèce (1931) which in turn is based on William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) poem, The Rape of Lucrece. All of these works are modern renditions of the classical legend of Lucretia. Read the following excerpt from Shakespeare’s poem to get a taste of Shakespeare’s writing style:
ROM the besieged Ardea all in post, Borne by the trustless wings of false desire, Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host, And to Collatium bears the lightless fire Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire And girdle with embracing flames the waist Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste. Haply that name of chaste unhapp'ly set This bateless edge on his keen appetite; When Collatine unwisely did not let To praise the clear unmatched red and white Which triumphed in that sky of his delight, Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties, With pure aspects did him peculiar duties. For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent, Unlocked the treasure of his happy state; What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent In the possession of his beauteous mate; Reck'ning his fortune at such high-proud rate That kings might be espoused to more fame, But king nor peer to such a peerless dame. Compare this with the opening scene of Duncan’s libretto? How are the two the same? How are they different? Can you immediately tell that one is more modern than the other? Similarities
Rather than have a new libretto written for his opera, Britten could have chosen to set Shakespeare’s text in an abridged or full version. Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers of all time, and his text would be inarguably excellently written. But Britten believed that there were distinct advantages to creating a new libretto with a collaborating partner, and that is what he chose to do. Britten and Ronald Duncan worked closely as they crafted the opera, The Rape of Lucretia. In Britten’s words, “The working together of the poet and composer…seems to be one of the secrets of writing a good opera…The composer and poet should be at all stages working together in the closest contact, from the most preliminary stages right up to the first night.” Because he wanted to cultivate a collaborative creative process, Britten chose not to use an existing version of the story like Shakespeare’s as a libretto. He needed the flexibility and artistic stimulus gained through working with a living poet to guide him through the innovative process. Duncan emphasizes this point in his book Working with Britten (1981), in which he describes his experience as a collaborator with Benjamin Britten. “We had written Lucretia working closely together, almost at one desk, each influenced by the other, I willing to add a line or a verse to suit the flow of his music, and he equally able and anxious to make the most of any musical opportunity when the librettist accidentally or deliberately gave him one.”
ACTIVE LEARNING In this exercise, you will have the chance to read the libretto without the music and speculate as to how the music could work together with the text. Then, you will hear the music that accompanies the text and determine how it meets or fails to meet your expectations. Recite the text from Act I, Scene One (Please see the Libretto on page 28 in your Sounds of Learning Guide):
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As the introduction begins, what does Duncan tell you about the current climate, the setting, and the time of year? Once the curtain has risen, how does the text and the atmosphere change? Regarding the prose, is there a dichotomy or rather a continuous flow between the text of the Male Chorus and that of the military men? How do you expect that Britten will describe this scene with music? Which register do you think he should use? Which instruments do you suspect he might use? When Duncan makes special mention of an animal or insect, do you think that should be acknowledged in the music? Do you expect that the music would change as the speaker changes? How might the music change as the text varies between unmetered and metered verse?
Now listen to the same section of the opera. (CD track 3).
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Did Britten’s music match your expectations? In what ways did it differ from what you were expecting? If it did not meet your expectations, how would you change the music? What instrument portrayed the crickets? What instrument portrayed the bull frogs? How consistent were those sounds throughout the scene? Was the vocal line more or less descriptive than the orchestral line? How did the music make you feel?
Does Music Speak Louder than Words?
Thereâ€™s more to Brittenâ€™s music than what initially meets the ear! Listen to track 3 of your Sounds of Learning CD. Throughout this track, you will hear clear distinctions as the music alternates between parts sung by the Male Chorus and parts sung by the military men. As you listen, fill in the following graph with details about each section of music. Part One Singer and vocal range
Male Chorus, confined range
Slow, even tempo, repetitive, hypnotic orchestral line.
Are the crickets and bullfrogs heard?
Yes. The harp and the double bass imitate these sounds.
Junius, joined at the end by all of the men, wide range
Vivace, militaristic and dotted rhythms
Horns, bass drum and woodwinds
Take a moment to reflect on this scene and answer the following questions. 1. Do the Male Chorus and the men have distinctly different music? If so, explain why Britten might have chosen to make this distinction. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Why do you think that the bullfrogs and crickets are so prominent in this scene? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
3. How is the drunkenness and rowdiness of the men described in music? Do the words add to this depiction? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
4. What do you think will happen as the scene progresses? Will the music follow the trajectory of the calmness of the Male Chorus or of the violence of the men? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
5. The women are not introduced until Scene 2 of Act I. This comes on the heels of Tarquinius’ vehement ride to Rome that 52
is set to forceful, passionate music. How do you expect the women’s scene to differ from the men’s scene in terms of instrumentation and mood? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Now listen to the beginning of Act I scene 2. (CD Track 6) As in the men’s scene, the women’s scene opens with music that alternates between parts sung by the Female Chorus and parts sung by the women. Fill in the following chart with information about the music of the different sections.
Part One Singer and Female Chorus vocal range
Steady with a strong downbeat
Harp background with the flute doubling the vocal line
Steady with a strong downbeat
Harp backgrounds with a dissonant orchestral downbeat
Use the information you have obtained to answer the following questions. 1. What instrument opens this scene? How does this compare to the opening of the Act I, Scene 1. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
2. The dissonant chords for the orchestra only occur when the Female Chorus is not singing. What is the significance of this? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
3. How is the domestic lifestyle of Roman women described in music? Does the music reinforce or contradict the role of women as described in the libretto? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
4. The women’s introduction has seven sections, while the men’s has only six. The seventh section of the women’s scene is the one in which all of the women sing together with the Female Chorus. This does not happen with the men and the Male Chorus. In your opinion, what does this say about the women and the men? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
Can You Hear Me Now?
Repetition is one of the strongest forms of persuasion. It is a tool used in rhetoric and marketing to enforce a point. For example, think about the famous “I have a Dream” speech: How many times does Martin Luther King Jr. say “I have a Dream” in his celebrated oration? Nine times! In marketing, the “rule of seven” states that a salesman must reach out to a potential customer seven times before turning that prospective client into an actual buyer. When a child wants something, he reiterates this desire MANY times until he achieves his desire! Musical repetition is even more effective. Sing or hum the slogans for: • McDonald’s (“ba da da da da - I’m lovin’ it”) • Intel’s musical tag in its commercials • Darth Vader’s theme music • The NBC chimes • Jaws theme music • Can you think of others?
The musical ideas associated with these products or characters makes them easy to remember. The frequency of their occurrence reinforces them within a person’s memory and solidifies the mind’s association of a thing to the linked music/phrase. Benjamin Britten’s first poetic collaborator, W.H. Auden, wrote the following: The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition. -W. H. Auden From this perspective, it seems natural to use musical repetitions, as it is a natural human tendency to find comfort in reiteration. It should come as no surprise, then, that many classical composers use repetition as a unifying element in their music. Composers cultivate repetition on purpose! Hum the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Ba ba ba BUM! This is an example of a musical motive. It is a short melodic and/or rhythmic collection of notes. Any of the popular examples above could be labeled as pop-culture motives. They are powerful tools for brand recognition. A composer usually establishes motives at the beginning of a piece of music to present information about a character, object or idea. Once an idea or character is linked to a musical motive, composers often alter the initial motive to reflect changes in the dramatic situation. As the composer modifies the mood, key, speed, range, instrumentation (the list goes on and on) of the piece, he can mutate the motive to fit this new style. A listener is used to the original arrangement of the motive and responds when it does not sound the same way anymore. Thus, a change in any aspect of the motive accentuates the changes in the piece and draws the attention of the listener. The motive without mutations can also be used to guide the listener through the sections of a piece or to refer to an absent character, object or idea.
Rev. Martin Luther King gives a press conference at Gracie Mansion. Photo by Dick DeMarsico.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c22988
55 When matched with sung language, a musical motive receives two new aspects, language and meaning. First, it is more easily recognized because of an attached word in addition to the repeated rhythm and melody. Second, it becomes associated with the meaning of the words attached to it.
Benjamin Britten unifies The Rape of Lucretia with the use of motives. The most prominent motives in the opera are those of Lucretia and Tarquinius. They are presented in the first scene of the opera as shown below.
As part of an analysis of these motives, please label the indicated intervals below:
Throughout the opera, the Tarquinius motive represents not only Tarquinius, but also the general male element of the story. The same goes for Lucretiaâ€™s motive, which stands for Lucretia as well as the general female element of the opera. The two motives seem quite different on the surface, but they are actually built on similar intervals. To better understand this, copy the notes from the quintuplet (five notes spread across one beat) in Lucretiaâ€™s motive onto the staff provided on the next page in descending order. Once you have copied the notes, determine the intervals between them in the spaces provided.
What do you notice about the pattern of Lucretia’s quintuplet and those of Tarquinius’ descending line? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
TARQUINIAS MOTIVE SHAPE
Scalar, straight-forward, downward
Very strange and complexOne beat is divided in five (quintuplet)
Descending scalar major third (written as a diminished fourth, c-g#). Half step, Whole step, Half step, Whole step
TARQUINIUS Imposed (Lucretia is not even introduced in the drama when Tarquinius sings her motive. This gives him power over her from the start of the story.) Authority, Insecurity Control, Straightforwardness
“To the chaste Lucretia”
Lucretia’s motive is a derivation of Tarquinius’ motive. Without a doubt, however, it is more complex than Tarquinius’ motive both rhythmically and melodically. Furthermore, Lucretia’s motive (and the audience’s first impression of her) is imposed upon her by Tarquinius when he sings her motive. Lucretia’s motive, therefore, is a reflection of Tarquinius’ view of her more than anything else. Tarquinius places her name in the windy minor thirds that highlight the side of Lucretia that incites violence and lust. Yet, he starts and ends the motive with a perfect fourth, an interval that is linked to purity and goodness in the opera. How, then, do you think that Tarquinius really views Lucretia? How does Tarquinius view himself? How does Britten view the characters? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
BRITTEN IS NOT ALONE IN HIS USE OF MUSICAL MOTIVES… Richard Wagner, the great German opera composer of the nineteenth century, believed in the power of motives as a story-telling device and developed a system of leitmotifs for his operas. Wagner attached motives to characters, objects and emotions in his operas. For example. the orchestra might play a love motive when two characters are falling in love, or the orchestra might play the evil character’s motive when the good character is singing about his fear of being captured by that person.
A portrait of German opera composer Richard Wagner by Franz von Lenbach. Wagner revolutionized the use of leitmotives in music in his operas, particularly his Der Ring des Nibelungen.
John Williams, the composer of the soundtrack for Star Wars, uses a series of leitmotifs in his movie soundtracks as well. When Anakin Skywalker is becoming evil, we already begin to hear the Darth Vader theme. When the tides turn so that the Force is winning a battle, the Force’s theme music is played. Can you think of other movies where musical motives are used to add further power to a scene? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Spotlight on the Harp
Harps are one of the simplest and oldest instruments known to human kind. They have been in existence for over 3,000 years. Harps were used in the music of the Etruscans, Greeks and Romans. As the harp evolved over time, however, it became more complex. The modern harp weighs about eighty pounds and is approximately six feet tall. It has three main parts: the frame (including the soundboard), the strings and the pedals. The overall shape is triangular. Benjamin Britten features a modern double-action pedal concert harp in The Rape of Lucretia. Let’s shine some light on this intriguing instrument and its peculiarly prevalent use in Britten’s opera. The modern harp is a plucked instrument and had strings that span six and a half octaves (that’s 46 or 47 strings!). Three octaves are below middle C and three and a half octaves are above middle C. The low strings are made of copper, the middle strings are made of gut (yes, the actual insides of an animal’s body), and the high strings are made of nylon. Gut strings produce a full-bodied lovely sound, but they are delicate and expensive. In the higher octaves, the strings are too fine to be made of gut. This is not to say gut strings for the harp’s higher regsister are not made; it is just n o t practical. The frame of a harp is made of wood and consists of a curved neck, a straight pillar, and a hollow back that holds the soundboard. Just like the guitar, the strings need a sound board to amplify their sound. The harp has seven pedals, one for each of the seven tones of the scale. For example, one pedal would control the “A” of each octave. The pedals affect the tuning of the strings and create flats and sharps for each note of the scale. Since the pitch of a note can be up or down (for example, A-natural can be made into A-flat), the pedals on a harp have a double-action system.
This system was developed in 1810 by Sébastien Érard in France and remains the standard of modern harp production. Harp technique requires the use of four fingers on each hand, as the pinkies are not typically used to pluck the strings, and of both feet to work the pedals. When playing the harp, a person sits behind the soundboard with his arms extended and his feet free to move. Relatively speaking, the harp is not used very frequently in classical music. It is characteristically used as an ornamental instrument for its ability to produce glissando and similar affects. It often accompanies arias in German and Italian nineteenth-century opera. There also many harp solos in nineteenthcentury ballet music. Britten uses the harp as fundamental solo instrument in his ensemble for The Rape of Lucretia.
ACTIVE LEARNING Listen to the first scene of Act One in The Rape of Lucretia, Track 3 of the Audio CD.
1. Is this a typical use of the harp? What in nature is the harp imitating?
2. How does this add to Britten’s presentation of the night?
3. Why did Britten choose to include the harp as one of the few instruments in his chamber orchestra?
4. Do you think that the harp’s ancient roots have any thing to do with his choice?
The Many Sounds of Opera Orchestration refers to how a composer adds color to a piece of music. Before beginning a composition, a composer must choose a specific blend of instruments and/or singers and decide upon the number of musicians as well as the combinations of instruments and style that he or she wishes to create. Using your Sounds of Learning CD, listen to the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the opening of The Rape of Lucretia. Can you hear which instruments are playing in each selection? Can you hear how many instruments are playing each line? Which orchestra sounds bigger? Which is clearer? The genre of grand opera entailed too much money and musical politics for Britten’s taste. He decided to gain financial and musical independence from the London mainstream by moving out of the large city and writing smaller chamber operas rather than grand operas. Lucretia, Britten’s first attempt at the genre, utilizes only 13 instrumentalists: Flute (doubling Piccolo and Alto Flute), Oboe (doubling Cor Anglais), Clarinet (doubling Bass Clarinet), Bassoon, Horn, Percussion, Harp, String Quartet, Double Bass. The recitatives are accompanied by a piano played by the conductor. This drop in numbers from the fully orchestrated Peter Grimes to the chamber orchestra used in The Rape of Lucretia must have required much adjustment in Britten’s compositional technique. Each type of composition has its advantages, though, and Britten capitalized on the perks of composing for a small ensemble. He paid great attention to musical details and complexity that is difficult to achieve in large ensembles. Britten scored the opera for full orchestra, but only had one musician per part. Since each instrumental line is so exposed, each instrumentalist must be technically and musically precise. The effect produced by this one-to-a-part symphonic structure is a full-sounding harmonic texture without the body of a standard orchestra. Like the singers in the opera, each instrumentalist is a soloist!
To enhance the texture of the small orchestra, Britten makes economical use of the instruments, especially the percussion section. For example, the harp is used to make the sound of crickets and a double bass imitates a bull frog while the Male Chorus describes the night. A crack of a whip emphasizes Lucretia’s shock upon her realization that she is being kissed by Tarquinius. There are only eight singers in the opera. Their voices are clearly heard at all times over the chamber orchestra. The complex musical score requires excellent pitch and musicianship from the singers in a way that more traditional opera does not. This approach to opera can be quite unexpected and jarring when compared with standard eighteenth and nineteenth century operas. At first glance, modern opera may seem to be unstructured and completely unrelated to the forms of earlier operas. Upon closer inspection, however, most of what Britten writes is a fresh, innovative use of established forms.
ACTIVE LEARNING Listen to the aria, “Voi che sapete” from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. (CD Track 14) This is a recitative and aria that is set aside from the action. Cherubino, a young page boy, sings to Susanna of how he does not understand the new emotions of love that he feels within himself. Recitative is the English translation of the Italian word recitare (to recite). It is speech-like song that provides a vehicle for dialogue and dramatic action in opera. Now, listen to Lucretia’s short aria “How Cruel Are Men to Teach Us Love” from The Rape of Lucretia. (CD Track 7) This is another recitative and aria, in which the recitative moves the action of a story and the aria is a reflection upon a character’s emotions. What is the difference in these two styles of composition? Which song’s melody is easier to repeat after you’ve heard it one time? Which song is in a simpler form? Which is more repetitive? Which song sounds like it would be easier to learn? Which is longer? Record your thoughts and ideas at the top of the next page.
Voi che sapete
How Cruel Men Are to Teach Us Love
While these pieces are quite different in composition style and musical language, there are some similarities as well. Listen to the arias again and pay special attention to repeated sections of words and music. Britten does not completely abandon the aria tradition of his predecessors. Instead, he modifies and modernizes the standard ABA form of the da capo aria for Lucretia’s Aria. In a da capo aria the B section has different words and music from the A section, and the A section appears before and after the contrasting B section.
Look at the general form of “Voi che sapete:”
Look at the general form of “How Cruel Men Are to Teach Us Love:”
A Section B Section
In Lucretia’s aria the words follow the ABA pattern, but the music is different the second time that Lucretia sings the words of the A section, “How cruel men are to teach us love.” Even though Britten’s aria is less than a minute long, it is definitely referencing this standard form of opera aria. Most importantly, recitative precedes the aria, and the actual aria does not advance the plot. Rather, it focuses on Lucretia’s feelings regarding the circumstances of the story. Throughout the nineteenth century, the distinction between recitative and aria often became less clearly defined. In some operas, it is impossible to pick out any distinct arias. The music, instead, flows naturally with the drama and eliminates the stops and pauses associated with the recitative and aria form. Remember, audiences applaud after an aria that is clearly distinguished as such. Essentially, the function of arias ranges from a place for singers to show off their flashy runs to an integrated melodic segment of an opera that is closely intertwined with what comes before and after it.
Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Do you find this aria to be well-integrated into the opera? Does it disturb the action, or do you wish there was more of this solo, melodic singing? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Britten makes a bold statement by using recitativo secco for his modern opera. Recitative secco, or dry recitative, is a type of speech-singing with sparse accompaniment in which a singer moves the action along. The phrases are not highly melodic and the function is to convey many words rather than perform a beautiful melody. This is unusual for 1946, considering that recitative secco is a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century technique. Britten accompanies the fast-paced recitative with the piano alone, reinforcing the idea that he is intentionally referencing the early style of recitative and aria. Compare Mozart’s and Britten’s use of aria and recitative. In Britten’s music, do you even notice the switch from one to another? Does it sound anachronistic? Do you prefer the more modern/seamless approach of Britten or the more flowery approach of Mozart? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
The Rape of Lucretia: 62
Behind the Music Use this article to discuss the music provided to your teacher on the music CD. Excerpts provided courtesy of EMI Classics, LTD. The state of affairs in Rome circa 500 B.C. was corrupt and disheartening. (Track 1) The Rape of Lucretia opens without musical fanfare to the Male Chorus’ description of the current king’s fraudulent rise to power and the atrocities committed by the ruling class of Rome, the Etruscans. The Male Chorus sings the opening in recitative style with piano accompaniment and occasional instrumental accents. The section is characterized by foreboding, discordant chords that set the tone of the opera. The Female Chorus eventually enters the prologue and describes the war-like ways of the Romans and Greeks, which is illustrated in the music through militaristic patterns driven by the timpani and horn. (Track 2) The Male and Female Chorus frame the entire classical story around a Christian context. Since they are omniscient observers telling the story from a modern perspective, they “as two observers stand between this present audience and that scene; We’ll view these human passions and these years through eyes which once have wept with Christ’s own tears,” as they announce in the opera’s Prologue. As the Male Chorus continues to describe the night and the military men he views, three men enter the action with their drunken song. (Track 3) The men discuss the results of a scheme they enacted to reveal the fidelity of their wives. Tarquinius and Junius are jealous that Collatinus’ wife, Lucretia, remained faithful to him in his absence. (Track 4) Junius’ wife was discovered in an adulterous act, and lecherous Tarquinius has no wife. In this scene, Tarquinius introduces the three most important motives in the opera: those of Lucretia, Collatinus and himself. Lucretia’s menacing motive permeates the entire section of the opera. Listen for the initial statements of the motives and then hear how Lucretia’s motive is manipulated by the singers and the orchestra. It is so bothersome that Junius says he is sick of the name upon its repetition.
At the prompting of Junius, Tarquinius decides to ride to Rome and test Lucretia’s faithfulness that night. During the interlude between scenes one and two of Act I, the Male Chorus describes Tarquinius’ horseback journey to Lucretia’s home. (Track 5) He rides in a violent, lustful passion, such that it is hard to decipher “who rides? Who’s ridden? Tarquinius, the stallion? Or the beast, Tarquinius?” The wild ride comes to life in the hoof-like beats, scalar runs and fast-paced motives in the orchestra. When he approaches the Tiber, he makes the dangerous swim to the other side in the dark of night. The orchestra represents the water with the sequencing of Lucretia’s motive; Tarquinius is literally engulfed by lust for Lucretia. The interlude ends with an extended, descending version of the name, “Lucretia.” A stark contrast in mood, register and instrumentation marks the beginning of Act I, scene 2, which introduces the female characters of the opera. (Track 6) The scene opens with the Female Chorus describing the night as it occurs for Lucretia and her maids. Each woman has a solo entrance that alternates with the Female Chorus’ description. The harp plays a consistent and peaceful arpeggiated sequence throughout the opening of the scene which is heard alone when the Female Chorus sings but is muddied by dissonant orchestral chords when Lucretia and her maids sing. The harp’s repetitive gesture illustrates the spinning wheel, a symbol of the women’s domestic tasks. Lucretia’s aria, “How Cruel Men Are to Teach Us Love,” is a short introduction to Lucretia’s character and her faithful love of Collatinus, her absent husband. (Track 7) It is framed by recitative and is very descriptive. For example, one can hear the gallop of the horse when Lucretia sings, “Then rides away.”
The musical mood gradually shifts as Tarquinius approaches Lucretia’s home. The Female and Male Chorus alternate in their description of Tarquinius’ arrival. (Track 8) The Female Chorus sings of the sleeping, peaceful city, while the Male Chorus narrates Tarquinius’ brutish arrival with music reminiscent of the interlude. Prince Tarquinius arrives at Lucretia’s home. (Track 9) The women and Tarquinius exchange greetings, and Tarquinius asks to stay the night since his horse is lame. Lucretia reluctantly agrees to provide such hospitality, and they all bid each other good-night. During each “Good-night” section, the orchestra plays Tarquinius’ motive repeatedly. Tarquinius sings Lucretia’s name to the melody of her motive. This shows that the power is in Tarquinius’ hands. At the beginning of Act II, scene one, the Female Chorus sweetly describes Lucretia’s calm sleep accompanied by comforting winds and brass. Track 10) The Male Chorus depicts Tarquinius’ passage through the halls of Lucretia’s home as he approaches her room. Note that this is the only spoken dialogue in the opera and that percussion instruments alone accompany his voice. For once, there is no melodic instrumental or vocal line. It is the point of no return. Tarquinius wakes Lucretia, and attempts to seduce her. (Track 11) Initially she is lured by the melodious tune to believe that she is kissing her husband. Her shock at the rude awakening to Tarquinius is emphasized by the crack of a whip in the orchestra. Tarquinius’ theme is played, in a descending sequence this time, in the orchestra, and he calls Lucretia’s name to the tune of her motive.
Lucretia wakes. In her maddening grief, she sends a message to Collatinus to come to her. (Track 12) She derides herself by ironically singing the motive Tarquinius gave her. The infectious tune has taken over her entire being, a lasting musical consequence of Tarquinius’ violation of her.
ACTIVE LEARNING 1. Compare the music from The Rape of Lucretia with that of Britten’s other operas. How do they compare?
2. How effectively does Britten set the text to music? Do you agree with his decisions? What would you change and why?
The Highs and Lows of the 64
Operatic Voice Did you ever wonder what the difference is between a soprano and a mezzo-soprano or what voice type can sing the highest note and the lowest? Most opera singers fall into a voice type that reflects the singer’s vocal range as well as the dramatic requirements of singing a particular role. Above all the voice is an instrument - a human one. Opera singers spend much time learning correct singing techniques that allow them to sing without amplification. There is no grabbing a microphone and belting out arias in opera. All the sound that an opera singer produces is done through the sheer power of the human voice. So how does one become a soprano, mezzosoprano, tenor, baritone, or bass, the five most common types of voices? Some of it has to do with the size of the vocal chords and the speed at which they vibrate. It also has to do with vocal range, which can be defined as the span from the lowest note to the highest note that a particular singer can produce. Vocal range is very important in opera singing. Two other things which are taken into consideration when determining a singer’s voice type are the consistency of timbre (sound quality or color of the voice) and the ability to project the voice over a full orchestra. Remember, there are no microphones in opera, and there are small, medium, large and extra large voices. Soprano Barbara Hendricks compares the differences in vocal types to the differences between a Mack truck and a Maserati. She says “...one can haul a load, but the other can take the curves.”
Some terms that are used to describe operatic voices are:
Coloratura: typically a voice with a very high range with the ability to sing complicated passages with great agility.
Dramatic: a heavy, powerful voice with a steely timbre. Lyric: an average size voice, but capable of singing long beautiful phrases.
Lyric spinto: a somewhat more powerful voice than that of a true lyric.
Helden: a German term referring to a powerful voice capable of singing very demanding roles.
Falsetto: the upper part of a voice, more often used in reference to male voices. Let’s define a few of the voice types that audiences generally hear in opera: For females, the highest voice type is the soprano. In operatic drama, the soprano is almost always the heroine because she projects innocence and youth. Within this category, there are other sub-divisions such as, coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, and dramatic soprano. Each of these voices has particular lighter or darker voice qualities as well as differences in range. Some of the roles sung by these voice types include: the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (coloratura), Mimi in La bohème (lyric) and the title role in Turandot (dramatic). The mezzo-soprano has a lower range than the soprano. Many mezzo-sopranos sing the so-called “trouser” roles, portraying young boys or men, or they may be the villainesses or perhaps motherly types. This category is also sub-divided into coloratura mezzo, who can sing complicated fast music through a large range. The comedic heroines of Gioachino Rossini’s operas, such as Cinderella, The Barber of Seville, and The Italian Girl in Algiers, are well-suited for this voice type. The dramatic mezzo is most often found singing the operas of Giuseppe Verdi in roles such as Amneris in Aida, or Princess Eboli in Don Carlo. One of the most well known roles for a dramatic mezzo is the fiery gypsy Carmen in the opera of the same name.
The contralto or alto is the lowest female voice and the darkest in timbre. This voice type is usually reserved for specialty roles like the earth goddess Erda in Richard Wagner’s Nordic fantasy-epic The Ring of the Nibelungen. Since this is such a rare voice type, dramatic mezzos often sing roles in this range. Marian Anderson, a Philadelphia native, was one of the world’s most famous contraltos ever. For males, the tenor is generally considered to be the highest male voice in an opera, and is most often the hero or the love interest of the story. His particular voice type determines which roles are best for him to sing. There are many different types of tenor voices. Two of the more common ones are lyric tenors, whose voices have high, bright tones, and dramatic tenors whose voices have a darker sound with a ringing quality in the upper range. Two of the more famous roles for tenors include Rodolfo in La bohème (lyric) and Calaf in Turandot (dramatic). A countertenor is able to sing even higher than a tenor. This voice actually falls within a female’s voice range. Through the use of a man’s falsetto voice, the voice produces a sound that is sometimes described as otherworldly. Benjamin Britten uses a countertenor in the role of Oberon in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A baritone is the most common type of male voice whose range lies midway between the high tenor voice and the low bass voice. He can play several types of roles. In comedic operas, he is often the leader of the funny business, but he can also be the hero who sacrifices himself for the tenor or soprano, or sometimes, he is the villain. This voice has a dramatic quality capable of producing rich, dark tones. The hunchback court jester in the title role in Rigoletto (dramatic) and the popular Toréador Escamillo in Carmen are favorite roles for baritones.
In general, a bass is the lowest and darkest of the male voices. The word bass comes from the Italian word basso, which means low. Some singers in this category are referred to as bass-baritones because they have voices that range between the bass and the baritone voice. A bass is ideal for several types of roles. A basso serio or basso profondo portrays characters who convey wisdom or nobility such as Sarastro in The Magic Flute. In contrast, a basso buffo sings comedic roles such as Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville. So, no matter what the size, quality or range, a singer’s voice has the ability to thrill an audience with its sheer beauty and musicality.
Active Learning Let’s imagine that The Lord of the Rings had been made into an opera. What voice types would you cast in the major roles and why?
Careers in the Arts
The Artistic Team creates everything you will see on stage. They spend hours studying the music, the libretto, and the opera’s historic context. It helps if they speak the language in which the opera is written. After their research is done, they ask themselves what the composer and librettist are saying about these characters and the subject to create a vision of how they will bring the opera to life.
The Artistic Team The Conductor is responsible for the interpretation of the music. He/she is respectfully referred to as Maestro, which in Italian means master or teacher. The conductor must be a very skilled musician. The Maestro works with the orchestra and the singers to interpret the music. Based on the composer’s instructions, he/she determines tempo, dynamics, and the musical expression of the opera. He/she leads the orchestra during the performance, coordinating what is happening onstage with what is happening in the orchestra pit. It is important that the singers and the musicians watch the conductor at all times. The Director ultimately brings to life what will be assembled onstage. After the director has studied the music, text, historical context, and any materials like books, plays or historical figures on which the opera might be based, he/she then turns to the designers and together they arrive at a concept. When rehearsals begin, the director helps bring the concept to life through the characters of the opera: how they move, how they behave, why they behave the way they do, how they interact with one another and the environment of the opera. The Scenic Designer must have the vision and creativity of a visual artist and a knowledge and sense of theater. It is this person’s responsibility to create the surroundings in which the characters exist. The design of the scenery directly controls and influences the total visual effect of the opera. The scenic designer must work very closely with the rest of the creative team to devise a set that allows the production concept to be achieved and enhances the work of the performers, director and the other designers. The Lighting Designer uses light to reveal form, and create mood, balance and focus. Light becomes a strong factor in the visual effect of design through the control of intensity, color and
distribution. A lighting designer is responsible not only for the general stage lighting but also for special effects such as lightning or explosions. Lighting effects and instruments are controlled by a computer, so the lighting designer must know how to use and program lighting software and be an expert in the principals of electricity and design. A Costume Designer is an essential part of the total visual effect. He/she must contribute to the concept by deciding how characters will look by what they are wearing. The costume gives us instant information about the characters in the opera. Are they young or old, rich or poor? The clothes have to be historically accurate, too. Opera often has lavish and elaborate costumes with many pieces to them. Often because of cost, an opera company may rent a complete set of costumes to fit the particular production. The Wigs and Make-up Artists use the face and hair as a palette. They can alter the physical characteristics of a person – sometimes by making people appear younger or older than they are. This person is responsible for making the artists’ faces and hair look like the characters they are portraying.
The Production Team While the artistic team creates, the production team implements the decisions that are made by the artistic team. Each person has an area of responsibility to oversee. These people are detail oriented and have excellent communication skills to work as a team to accomplish the goals of the production. The Production Manager schedules rehearsal time for the orchestra, chorus, principal singers, and technicians, and makes arrangements for the arrival of production staff, sets and costumes. He/she oversees the construction of new sets as well as supervising the stagehands at the theater.
67 The Chorus Master prepares the chorus musically. The chorus is the first of all the singers to begin rehearsal. Since most operas are sung in a foreign language, singers who do not speak the language must learn the words phonetically and memorize what they mean. The Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Managers ensure the rehearsals and performance run smoothly. They keep track of the “who, what, where, and when” of the production. Who enters or exits, with what prop, wearing what costume, and when in the music. They cue the various stage technicians to change the set, lights, and where the props are needed. They follow the score and give a “Stand By” and a “Go.” Stage Managers are timekeepers and the problem eliminators. The Assistant Director assists the director by writing down the stage blocking into a piano/vocal score. He/she must be able to keep track of the director’s instructions to hundreds of people onstage: why they move, where they move, and at what particular time in the music. The Accompanist or Rehearsal Pianist plays the piano as a substitute for the orchestra during staging and music rehearsals. This person must be an excellent pianist and be very familiar with the opera score. The accompanist follows the conductor’s direction and must have a lot of stamina, because the rehearsals are sometimes long and tiring.
The Music Director is the principal conductor of the Opera Company’s orchestra. It is his responsibility to improve the quality of the orchestra, hire new orchestra members, hire conductors for the operas which he is not conducting, make casting and repertoire recommendations to the General and Artistic Director, work out any cuts in the music. The Managing Director is hired by the board of directors and is responsible for all of the business aspects of an opera company from Marketing and Public Relations, to Fund Raising and Education. The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for managing the budget, preparing tax statements, and makes sure that everyone gets paid. The Director of Development raises money from individuals, foundations, corporations, and the government to help fund the running of the Company. Ticket sales pay for less than half of the cost of producing opera. The Director of Marketing and Communications oversees all promotional and ticket sales campaigns and maintains contact with press locally and from all over the world. The Director of Community Programs coordinates all aspects of educational and outreach programs for students and adults, gives lectures throughout the area, and coordinates programming with the other organizations in the community.
Administrative Staff Without the administration there wouldn’t be an opera. These people constitute the company that produces opera. They are the business people and the office workers. After all, opera is show business. The Board of Directors is a group of men and women in the community who represent the contributors to the opera and help set policies. The General and Artistic Director is responsible for planning all aspects of an opera production from choosing which operas to perform, which singers will be cast in the roles, designs for a production and the production team to be hired. He is also involved in crafting the Company budget and represents the Company in all contract negotiations with artists and all unions.
Production Manager Greg Prioleau reviews a set model for an upcoming production.
A Sampling of
Careers in the Arts Accompanist Actor/Actress Advertising Director Announcer Architect Architectural Model Builder Artist Artistic Director Art Festival Coordinator Art Teacher Arts Administrator Arts Consultant Arts Ed. Curriculum Writer Audio Engineer (recording) Band Director Book Designer Book Illuminator Box Office Director Business Manager Casting Director Choir Director Choreographer Cinematographer Clothing Designer Comedian Commercial Artist Composer Computer Graphics Design Concert Singer Conductor Contract Specialist
Copyright Specialist Costume Buyer Costume and Mask Designer Creative Consultant Critic Cutter (costumes) Dancer Dialect Coach Dramaturg Draper (costumes) Dresser (theater) Extra (background actor) Fashion Designer First Hand (seamstress) Fundraiser (Development) Furniture Designer House Manager (theater) Illustrator (fashion, book, etc.) Instrumentalist Librettist Lighting Designer Makeup Artist Manager (arts organizations) Master Electrician (stage) Model Builder Mold Maker Music Contractor Music Copyist and Transcriber Music Editor Music Librarian Music Teacher
Musician Musicologist Orchestrator Painter Producer (theater, TV, movies) Proofreader (music) Props Buyer Props Designer Public Relations Specialist Publicist Publisher Scene Painter Scenic Designer Sculptor Set Decorator Set Dresser Shop Foreman (stage) Singer Special Effects Coordinator Stage Carpenter Stage Director Stage Hand Stage Manager Stitcher (costumes) Stunt Coordinator Theater Director Ticketing Agent TV Camera Operator Vocalist Wardrobe Mistress Wigmaker
Active Learning What career would you consider interesting? Where do you think you could go to learn more about it? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Make a fictitious myspace.com profile for one of the characters from The Rape of Lucretia. Fill in the details below and and bring this character to life! In the square below draw a picture of the character. Before you start, decide whether the profile will be set in the present nor in ancient Rome!
NAME: _____________________________________ DATE: _____________________________________ BIRTHDAY: _________________________________ NETWORK: ________________________________
ACTIVITIES: __________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ INTERESTS: _________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ FAVORITE MUSIC: _____________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ FAVORITE BOOKS: _____________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ FAVORITE QUOTE: _____________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ABOUT ME: _________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________
The Art - Music Connection
The tragic tale of Lucretia has inspired hundreds of artists throughout the ages. Here are several images of famous Lucretia-inspired pieces. Which best captures the character of Lucretia for you and why? From left to right in clockwise order from the upper left: Two realizations of Lucretia by Rembrandt (above left and center); a marble statue, The Dying Lucretia by Damiรกn Campeny y Estany (above right); marble statue by Philippe Bertrand (lower right); Lucretia (c. 1580) by Paolo Veronese
Photographer: Michael Bolton
Modern Lucretia Nothing succeeds like success, as they say. From antiquity to Shakespeare and more recent times, theatrical productions use classic stories to inspire new works. Recently the Broadway musical Rent was hugely successful and was based on the Henri Murger novel Scènes de la vie de bohème and on Giacomo Puccini’s ever-popular opera La bohème. Your challenge is to update The Rape of Lucretia into a modern time and place – even in a different genre. Will you create a new musical? A theatrical play? An opera? A radio drama? Here’s your chance to flex your creative muscle and come up with a new adaptation of this centuries-old story! Fill in the information below to create your masterpiece! Title: _________________________________________________________________________________ Genre: _______________________________________________________________________________ Characters and their descriptions: __________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Setting: ____________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Plot: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Costumes: _________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Why did you decide on this treatment? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
WORD BANK Use the word bank below to help you with the puzzle. Not all of the words are used in the puzzle. Aldeburgh Battle of Britain Bianca Boosey and Hawkes
Britten chamber opera Collatinus double bass
Duncan Etruscans Kathleen Ferrier Glyndebourne
harp Livy Lucretia Motive
Obey Peter Pears Red House Roman Republic
Rome Shakespeare Tarquinius Tiber
ACROSS 1. The place where Lucretia was first performed. 7. Last name of the composer of The Rape of Lucretia. 9. The instrument which imitates the sound of crickets in the opera.
10. The city in which the opera is set. 12. The Roman author who wrote The History of Rome. 14. The prince of Rome. 15. A group of people who inhabited central Italy prior to the foundation of the Roman Republic.
17. According to Roman legend, the new government that resulted from the Roman revolution against the Etruscan monarchy.
18. The tenor who premiered the role of the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia.
DOWN 2. The Roman woman whose beauty and purity exemplified the ideals of Roman Society.
3. The last name of the man who wrote the libretto for the opera.
4. The place where Britten and Pears settled and developed their own music festival that is still active today.
5. Lucretia's husband. 6. The publishing company with which Britten worked. 8. The English author who wrote the poem The Rape of Lucrece.
10. The name of the building in Aldeburgh where Britten lived.
11. A musical idea that is repeated throughout a piece. 13. The older of Lucretia's maids. 16. The river Tarquinius crossed to get to Lucretia in the middle of the night.
Everyone’s a Critic!
74 In The Rape of Lucretia, Britten clearly references Greek tragedy and its elements, including the male and female choruses (modeled on the choruses used in Greek Tragedy) and a heroine whose fate is changed for the worse. He chooses a subject that occurred 500 years before Christ’s birth. Why, then, frame the entire story within a Christian context? The prologue and the epilogue both reference that Lucretia’s death would be redeemed by Christ’s own self-sacrifice. After
Lucretia’s death, the choruses sing “He (Christ) is all” in response to the question, “Is this all?” The choruses’ response means that Lucretia’s suicide is not the end of her life, which will be eternal because of Christ’s love. Britten and Duncan received serious criticism of the opera in general, specifially regarding the Christian context. Read the review of the opera below by C.G. Rich, printed in The Guardian on September 13, 1946, then review the discussion questions on the next page.
Has the Christian message anything to do with Lucretia? Is the opera a congeries of incongruous pieces? Difficulties disappear when it is realized that the theme is none other than the crisis of civilization, raped by the worshippers of power: and to our agonized world it is proclaimed that the only hope is that Christ is the redeemer. If the theme were, in fact and literally, the rape of Lucretia, this message would indeed be tasteless irrelevance alleged. But these two sensitive and serious artists have surely earned the right to be supposed to know what they are about. They have shown their mettle in such things as the Michelangelo Sonnets or This Way to the Tomb. Would they here be fiddling while Rome burns: producing in this year of the atom bomb an amusing pastiche on an escapist legend? The new opera must be approached with the presumption that it is a serious criticism of life. Not that the characterization is poor, or the action fails to move. The story itself is presented most unmovingly, but is not the whole opera. It is not a case of either-or. Britten, like Mozart in The Magic Flute, like Shakespeare in The Tempest, as had been demonstrated by E. M. W. Tillyard, worked at once on two or more planes of reality. Lucretia, Tarquinius, Collatinus, are indeed persons; the story has its roots in history, but they are at the same time, and more importantly, types or symbols. The general theme is the rape of our fair civilization by the powers of dark force-aptly typified by the grim Etruscans, whose ideals were most parallel to those of the Nazis, as the libretto reminds us -fertile women, masterful men, conquest, softness, race-worship.
Discussion Questions: 75
1. Do you agree or disagree with this review and why? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Does this review justify the Christian context of the Greek tragedy or make it seem even less appropriate? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Rich tries to understand the Christian element of the opera in the context of concurrent world events, which Britten and Duncan cannot have ignored. Accepting that the piece speaks to the horrors of the year 1946, what are the artists communicating through their opera? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. In your opinion, are there references comparing the Etruscans to the Nazi party in Duncanâ€™s libretto? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. What qualities do the characters of Lucretia, Tarquinius and Collatinus personify in the opera? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. Do you feel that Britten uses the Male and Female Choruses effectively and why? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. Do you think that the critic is too harsh in his reaction to the piece? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Create Your Own Review
Now it is your turn to be a critic. Once you have viewed the opera, collect your thoughts using the graphic organizer below. Consider the music, composition, libretto, stage direction, singing, acting, venue, and lighting. Feel free to interview friends about their reactions to the opera and include them in your review.
The Rape of Lucretia Organizer What did you like about... The Music: ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________
The Acting and Staging: ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________
The Story and Libretto: ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________ ________________________
What do your friends have to say about the opera? Friend’s name: _______________________ Friend’s Comments:_____________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
REVIEW: THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA BY BENJAMIN BRITTEN _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Once you have finished, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please post group or individual reviews at http://operaphillysol.blogspot.com. We’ll be watching out for your critiques!
About the Author:
One of the family rules at my childhood kitchen table was “No singing at the table.” This was put into place because I sang ALL of the time, and my siblings and parents wanted a break from my singing during meals. I would often forget about the rule, and someone would shout “No singing at the table” whenever I would mindlessly burst into song. Curiously, none of my friends shared the same problem! When I was in the fifth grade, my parents realized that I was pretty serious about singing, and they gave me voice lessons. I loved it! I sang in plays and choruses throughout high school. I even had the chance to sing with an orchestra. I won a scholarship to study music in college at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. While there, I decided that I should start learning the foreign languages that are most common in classical singing. It makes life much easier to have a good knowledge of the language of a song so that it is not necessary to look up every word! I started with Italian. During my junior year in college, I studied in Florence, Italy, and learned to speak Italian. I lived with a seventy-year-old woman who did not speak any English. We became good friends over Dolores’ spectacular three-course meals and priceless stories. While in Italy, I had two voice lessons a week, took courses at the University of Florence, worked at a children’s program, and traveled to different countries. There’s so much to discover in the world! Once back in the US, I finished my undergraduate degree in music and Italian. I wanted to learn more about everything I was studying, so I entered the Master of Music program at Temple University. I pursued two masters degrees there, one in music history and one in voice performance. I love to explore the history of the music I perform, and this program
was a perfect combination of the two interests. My voice teacher at Temple, Dr. Lorie Gratis, taught me vocal technique and exciting repertoire. She made singing so much fun. Once I finished that program, I went to Germany and learned to speak a bit of German. I worked as an au-pair (nanny) in Tübingin, a city in the Southwest of Germany, for a family with three children. They were a musical family, and had an uncle who played the piano beautifully. Germans have a long tradition of playing Hausmusik (or House Music), in which amateur musicians play live music for entertainment in the home. Uncle Ludger was retired, and he asked if he could work with me on my pronunciation of the German texts I sang. We worked every day and gave concerts at the family’s parties during the week-end. The baby would fall asleep in my arms when I sang, so everyone was happy! Now, I am teaching voice and piano lessons and performing in various groups in Philadelphia. I am pursuing my doctorate in vocal performance at Temple University. I am also working towards certification as a voice therapist. With this knowledge, I hope to help singers and other professional voice users to avoid surgery or recover from it. As an intern with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, I have the opportunity to research The Rape of Lucretia, and create the Sounds of Learning Guide with Mike Bolton, Director of Community Programs at the Company. The internship is funded by the Samuel S. Fels Foundation, which provides grants in community programming, education, and the arts that improve social conditions and improve everyday life in Philadelphia. The Fels Foundation is very generous to have funded this project along with many others in the city. I am grateful to have worked on this project and to have met the other interns who are working on interesting projects all over the city. Please check out the web-site at www.samfels.org to see what the Fels organization is making possible around the city. While you’re at it, take a look at my web-site www.juliamadden.com. I’d love to hear from you!
Glossary Underlined words are used in the libretto and are underlined in the libretto as well. act (akt) n. one of the main divisions of a play or opera. alacrity (uh-lak-ri-tee) n. 1. cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness 2. liveliness; briskness. allegro (uh-leg-roh) adv. musical term for fast and lively. alto (al-toh) n. the range of the female voice between mezzo-soprano and contralto. andante (ahn-dahn-tey) adv. a musical term meaning in moderately slow time. antagonist (an-tag-o-nist) n. an adversary or opponent of the main character or protagonist in an opera, play, or other drama. aria (ahr-ee-uh) n. an operatic song for one voice. augury (aw-gyuh-ree) adj. an omen, token, or indication. axiom (ak-see-uhm) n. 1. a self-evident truth that requires no proof 2. a universally accepted principle or rule bar (bahr) n. a division of music containing a set number of beats. baritone (bar-i-tohn) n. the range of the male voice between tenor and bass. bass (beys) n. the lowest male singing voice. beat (beet) n. the basic pulse of a piece of music. chord (kord) n. a group of notes played at the same time in harmony. chorus (kawr-uhs) n. 1. a group of singers. 2. a piece of music for these. chronological (kron-l-oj-i-kuhl) adj. a method of arrangement that puts events in order of occurrence. chrysalis (kris-uh-lis) n. the hard-shelled pupa of a moth or butterfly; an obtect pupa. constancy (kon-stuhn-see) n. the quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, or loyalty; firmness of mind; faithfulness. contralto (cuhn-tral-toh) n. the lowest female singing voice. crucible (kroo-suh-buhl) n. 1. a container of metal or refractory material employed for heating sub stances to high temperatures. 2. a severe, searching test or trial. cuckold (kuhk-uhld) n. the husband of an unfaithful wife. decorum (di-kohr-uhm) n. dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress, etc. dyspeptic (dis-pep-tik) adj. gloomy, pessimistic, and irritable. effete (i-feet) adj. 1. lacking in wholesome vigor; degenerate; decadent: an effete, overrefined society. 2. exhausted of vigor or energy; worn out: an effete political force. 3. unable to produce; sterile. eglantine (eg-luhn-tahyn) n. a rose, Rosa eglanteria, of Europe and central Asia, having a tall stem, stout, hooked prickles often mixed with bristles, and single, pink flowers. eunuch (yoo-nuhk) n. a castrated man, esp. one formerly employed by Oriental rulers as a harem guard or palace official. fetters (fet-er) n. 1. a chain or shackle placed on the feet. 2. anything that confines or restrains. flat (b) (flat) adj. a half-step lower than the corresponding note or key of natural pitch. forte (f) (for-tay) adv. loudly. fortissimo (ff) (for-tee-see-moh) adv. a musical term for very loud. hock (hahk) n. The tarsal joint of the hind leg of a digitigrade quadruped, such as a horse, corresponding to the human ankle but bending in the opposite direction. impetuous (im-pech-oo-uhs) adj. of or characterized by sudden or rash action, emotion, etc. key (kee) n. the basic note of the main scale used in a piece of music. In the key of G, for example, G is the fundamental note; the music often returns to it and comes to rest on it. largo (lahr-goh) adv. a musical term meaning in slow time and dignified style. leitmotiv (lahyt-mo-teev) n. a melodic passage or phrase associated with a specific character, situation, or element. libretto (li-bret-oh) n. the words of an opera or other long musical. licentious (lahy-sen-shuhs) n. sexually unrestrained; lascivious; libertine; lewd. linnet (lin-it) n. a small Old World bird such as the house finch.
major (may-jor) adj. music in a major key uses a major scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then another tone (for example, C, D, E). It often has a cheerful, strong sound. minor (my-ner) adj. music in a minor key uses a minor scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then a semitone ( for example A, B, C). It often has a sad, melancholic sound. natural (nach-er-uhl) adj. a note that is neither flattened nor sharpened. nubian (noo-bee-uhn) n. any person inhabiting Nubia, an ancient kingdom in the region from the Nile to the Red Sea, 2000 b.c.â€“a.d. 1400. 2. a Nubian or black slave. obsequious (uhb-see-kwee-uhs) adj. obedient; dutiful. octave (ok-tiv) n. a note that sounds twice as high in pitch as another, is an octave above the other note, and has the same letter naming it. opera (op-er-uh) n. a play in which the words are sung to musical accompaniment. orchestra (awr-keh-struh) n. a large body of people playing various musical instruments, including stringed and wind instruments. overture (oh-ver-cher) n. an orchestral composition forming a prelude to an opera or ballet. pianissimo (pp) (pee-ah-nees-ee-moh) adv. a musical term meaning very softly. piano (p) (pi-an-oh) 1. adv. a musical term meaning softly. 2. n. keyed percussion instrument first named pianoforte because it could play both softly and loudly. presto (pres-toh) adv. a musical term meaning very fast. sepulcher (sep-uhl-ker) n. a tomb, grave, or burial place. scale (skayl) n. a series of notes arranged in descending or ascending order of pitch. semitone (sem-i-tohn) n. a half step or half tone, an interval midway between two whole tones. sharp (#) (shahrp) n. any note a semitone higher than another note. Also, slightly too high in pitch. soprano (so-prah-noh) n. the highest female or boy's singing voice. sot (sot) n. a drunkard. stage (stayj) n. a platform on which a public performance is given before an audience. staging (stay-jing) n. the presentation or production on the stage. symphony (sim-foh-nee) n. a long musical composition (usually in several parts) for a full orchestra. synopsis (si-nop-sis) n. a summary, a brief general survey. tone (tohn) n. 1. an interval equal to two semitones. 2. the sound quality of an instrument or voice. usurer (yoo-zher-er) n. a person who lends money and charges interest, esp. at an exorbitant or unlawful rate; moneylender. verismo (vuh-riz-moh ) n. realism in opera. From Dictionary.com. Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, ÂŠ Random House, Inc. 2006.
The School District of Philadelphia School Reform Commission Sandra Dungee Glenn, Chairwoman
Sounds of Learning™ was established by a generous grant from The Annenberg Foundation.
Martin G. Bednarek, member Denise McGregor Armbrister, member Heidi A. Ramirez, Ph.D, member Dr. Arlene C. Akerman
Superintendent of Schools and Interim Chief Academic Officer
Dennis W. Creedon, Ed.D. Administrator, Office of Creative and Performing Arts
Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning™ program has been provided by: $20,000 to $49,999 Glenmede Hamilton Family Foundation Lincoln Financial Group Foundation
Written and produced by: Opera Company of Philadelphia Community Programs Department ©2009 1420 Locust Street, Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. 19102 Tel: (215) 893-3600, ext. 246 Fax: (215) 893-7801 www.operaphila.org/community Michael Bolton
Director of Community Programs
Opera Company of Philadelphia Robert B. Driver
General and Artistic Director
Corrado Rovaris Music Director
David B. Devan
Universal Health Services $10,000 to $19,999 The ARAMARK Charitable Fund at the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program
Citizens Bank Foundation
Ellis A. Gimbel Charitable Trust
Director of Community Programs
Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund
Opera Company of Philadelphia Corporate Council ADVANTA Bank of New York Mellon Burdumy Motors Cephalon KPMG Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue Pennsylvania Trust Quaker Chemical Sunoco US Airways Wyeth
Eugene Garfield Foundation GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Hirsig Family Fund
Additional support is provided by the Independence Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The Opera Company of Philadelphia receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Special thanks to: Samuel S. Fels Fund Dr. Dennis W. Creedon
Creator, Sounds of Learning™ Curriculum Consultant
Dr Nicholas Clark
The Britten-Pears Foundation
The Britten-Pears Foundation
Nathan Gunn Dr. Jean MacIntosh Turfa
Morgan Stanley Foundation
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The Patricia Kind Family Foundation
PNC Bank Foundation Samuel S. Fels Fund
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. EMI Records
$5,000 to $9,999
Center City Film and Video
Alpin J. & Alpin W. Cameron
Free Library of Philadelphia Print and Picture Department
Memorial Trust Bank of America Charitable Foundation
The Opera Company of Philadelphia is supported by major grants from The William Penn Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Lenfest Foundation.
Samuel S. Fels Fund Intern
McLean Contributionship Sheila Fortune Foundation Wachovia Foundation $1,000 to $4,999 Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation Louis N. Cassett Foundation Reading Anthracite Company
Opera Company of Philadelphia
1420 Locust Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, PA 19102 T (215) 893-3600 F (215) 893-7801 www.operaphila.org
October 10, 12m, 15, 19m & 24
November 14, 16m, 19, 21 & 23m
February 20, 22m, 25 March 1m & 6
April 24, 26m, 29 May 1 & 3m
June 5, 7m, 10, 12 & 14m
March 13, 15 & 18
* The Kimmel Center Presents Curtis Opera Theatreâ€™s production in association with Opera Company of Philadelphia