High praise is nothing new for the operatic ensemble from Mannes College The New School for Music. Last weekend’s production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Hunter College garnered no different. The troupe and the accompanying Mannes Orchestra were rewarded on Monday with yet another positive review from The New York Times, which complimented the performers not only for their depth of talent, but their dramatization as well. In particular, performances by tenor Christopher Colmenero and the soprano Felicia Moore were noted as “firm-voiced” and “thoughtful,” handling well the difficulties innate within the choruses and production.
Composed in 1946, the rarely performed opera is regarded as one of Britten’s most controversial due to its complexity and boundary-pushing libretto, prepared by Ronald Duncan. Initially based on a poem by Shakespeare, the story depicts the rape of the Roman matron Lucretia by Prince Tarquinius, an Etruscan overlord, and follows a sequence of short scenes narrated by a two-voice chorus. The Mannes Opera chose this particular production for their annual performance in recognition of the centennial of Britten’s birth, as well for its challenging and provocative nature.
Joseph Colaneri, the artistic director of the Mannes Opera as well as the West Australian Opera in Perth, conceived, supervised, and conducted the Mannes Opera’s production of The Rape of Lucretia, with Laura Alley directing. Read the NYT review here.