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Coming Soon: The Rape of Lucretia

Benjamin Britten’s gripping and emotional chamber opera, The Rape of Lucretia, comes to life at The Boston Conservatory April 3–6. The performance will be sung in English with supertitles. 

The story takes place in 509 B.C. in war-torn Rome and is told by a Greek-style chorus of self-described Christian interpreters. The chorus details the thoughts and actions of the characters throughout the opera, with the female chorus narrating the thoughts of female characters and the male chorus narrating the male characters’ thoughts. 

“With its evocative orchestration, richly poetic libretto and heightened dramatic arc, Britten’s chamber opera presents a puzzle—particularly the chorus,” said Nathan Troup, director of The Rape of Lucretia and associate director of opera studies. “As the chorus members get increasingly emotionally invested in this story as it goes on, the audience is challenged to determine who these nameless narrators are, from when in time they come and why they care so much.” 

The tale is of a group of Roman soldiers fighting off a Greek invasion. When the soldiers return home, they find that all their wives have betrayed them, except for one—Lucretia. The King’s son is then recruited to test Lucretia’s loyalty, and he ultimately violates her. Devastated, Lucretia stabs herself and dies. The female chorus is left in despair, while the male chorus assures Lucretia that there is meaning to her pain. 

Originally performed in England in 1946, The Rape of Lucretia is the first work ever to be titled a “chamber opera”—meaning it is performed with a chamber ensemble rather than a full orchestra. Britten invited the form when the English Opera Group needed works that could easily be taken on tour. 

The Rape of Lucretia will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3 through Saturday, April 5, along with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 6. All performances will be at The Boston Conservatory Theater at 31 Hemenway Street. Tickets are $25 for regular seating and $30 for premium seating; they are available for purchase now through The Boston Conservatory Box Office: (617) 912-9222 and

For more information, call (617) 912-9240 or visit For information about group rates, contact the Box Office Manager at (617) 912-9142.


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