Theatre Review: The Rape Of Lucretia at Peacock Theatre

The British Youth Opera performs a dark and emotional show worthy of praise.

One of this year’s British Youth Opera (BYO) performances pushed its cast of up-and-coming opera singers to both technical and emotional limits.

Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera production The Rape of Lucretia offers a provocative interpretation of the historic tragedy that sees the Prince of Rome sexually assault and thereby invoke the suicide of General Collatinus’ wife Lucretia, the only virtuous woman of all the Roman army wives.

The cast, led by artistic director Peter Robinson, certainly meets the plot’s challenging technical and emotional demands.

Elin Pritchard, singing the part of the female chorus, most notably carries the tone of the opera from an anxious sense of impending doom to a dark, lingering sorrow.

Rowan Hellier as Lucretia also embraces the weight of the tale, sweetly portraying the unfaltering innocence of the part before the assault and making a tangibly damp descent into a grief-ridden demise.

To no fault of the cast’s dulcet tones, however, the narrative hovers for far too long and much too often.

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The moments preceding the interval and the climactic assault are drawn out with dull, repetitive scenes that simply pause the narrative. These delays disconnect the audience from the song and action on stage rather than building anticipation to the horrible scene about to unfold.

But if the primary purpose of the BYO is to promote the next generation of opera singers, which it is, then The Rape of Lucretia was a fine performance by worthy opera stars sure to be seen again.

* The Rape Of Lucretia was a production by Sadler’s Wells performed at the Peacock Theatre, in Portugal Street, WC2.