The BBC has just released archive film of a 1964 Britten-Pears studio recital.
The first song they perform is Purcell’s ‘Man is for a woman made’. The second is about a bachelor wooing a maid. The third song is described by Pears as being about ‘woman as deceiver’. The next about ‘woman as a faithful companion’.
Several in the audience, and certainly the producers, were aware that the artists were gay and living together. What went through their minds when hearing this determined dissimulation? Leading the applause, from the back row, is the late Earl of Harewood
Watch the fascinating survey of English song here.