This is a double volume dedicated to two masterpieces by Benjamin Britten. While the 1945 premiere of Peter Grimes established Britten as a composer of international standing, Gloriana, which was composed for the coronation of Elizabeth II, has ...
never enjoyed a comparable fame. The variety of mood, characterization and pace, in each, illustrates Britten's exceptional gift for theatre - a view borne out by the recollections of the artists who created the title roles, Peter Pears and Joan Cross. Commentaries on the scores reveal, for instance, how much the popular concert extracts (the 'Sea Interludes' from Peter Grimes and the 'Choral Dances' from Gloriana) gain from their context in the dramas. The libretti are particularly interesting: the essay by E.M. Forster - the inspiration for Peter Grimes - is reprinted here, and Michael Holroyd discusses Lytton Strachey's controversial Elizabeth and Essex - the source for Gloriana. In sum, this is a celebration of two works by the greatest opera composer of the second half of the twentieth century.