Britten: Gloriana - Fisher, Pears, Vyvyan, Herincx, Robinson; Fairfax. London, 1963
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I have to admit something I am not proud of… For years I shied away from Gloriana due to the Elizabethan setting. I assumed that Britten would have used it as an exercise in exploring outdated forms and would have turned it into an academic parade of puffy dresses and cod pieces. I could not have been more wrong. Although Britten does capture the Elizabethan flavor musically, this opera is one of the most dramatically raw of Britten's I have ever heard. It is based on Elizabeth I and her relationship with Robert Devereux. Britten creates a monarch who is both blood thirsty and tortured and provides and excellent vehicle for Sylvia Fisher in the title role. Although Peter Pears' voice may not be as dramatic as the writing demands, you never get the sense that we are being cheated as he more than makes up for it with his honest yet impassioned acting. The sound is very good.