BRITTEN: At last, we have fallen for our great Britten

The composer’s pacifism seems an irrelevant curiosity now, his homosexuality of even less concern.

Benjamin Britten’s coronation opera Gloriana had its early performances in the gilded splendour of the Royal Opera House. The new monarch herself attended the premiere on June 8 1953.  Two months later, the work had its next outing, in Bulawayo, second city of what was then Southern Rhodesia. Many of the original cast made the long journey south, flying on one of BOAC’s new Comet jets. The company included Joan Sutherland, making one of her first Royal Opera appearances. The tour was part of a great festival marking the centenary of Cecil Rhodes. Gloriana was staged in an aircraft hangar temporarily named “The Theatre Royal”.  The audience of Rhodesian farmers, businessmen and civic dignitaries were ...

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