Royal Opera abruptly ends Rape

Royal Opera abruptly ends Rape


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2022

The final performance in a short, acclaimed run of Britten’s troubling Rape of Lucretia was cancelled last night ‘due to illness’.

The show is a co-pro with Britten-Pears Arts. No further details have been given.

Here’s the statement.
Tuesday 22 November 2022 – With great regret we must cancel tonight’s performance of The Rape of Lucretia due to illness. Ticket buyers have been contacted and the value of your ticket(s) will be automatically credited to your account. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

We, for our part, are very sorry for the lack of flexibility and transparency. Was there no understudy? The cast was drawn from young singers in the Jette Parker Artists Programme and starred Anne Marie Stanley in the title role.


  • JRHB says:

    At one of the previous performances, a cover had gone on as Collatinus with Female Chorus sung from the side whilst a member of staff walked the role on stage. Perhaps further i,lness within the cast meant it was felt too many compromises would need to be made.

    • M Le Balai says:

      I suspect you’re right. For a smaller scale production such as this they may not have had understudies and if numerous cast members are off ill, the production was probably judged to be just too compromised.

      • Nick2 says:

        M Le Balai’s comment is, I regret to say, totally wrong! There is absolutely no excuse for the cast in smaller scale productions NOT to be covered! How many young experienced singers are there with little work who could have easily been involved as covers for a great deal less money than the ROH lost through cancellation. The ROH is a professional and highly subsidized organisation. By not providing covers it is failing in its duties – artistic and fiduciary!

  • Una says:

    How ridiculous! About time they sorted out their covers properly. If a company appoints covers, which they should do, then the covers should be able to sing it at the drop of a hat.

    • Nick2 says:

      Una is absolutely correct. To stage any opera like Lucretia without the key roles being covered is just asking for trouble. Giving chorus members cover duties is not unheard of when many would have been able to acquit themselves well in this opera is pure penny pinching which has resulted in a considerable loss of revenue for the House and anger for the audience. It’s not as though the performance was of the complexity and extreme difficulty of a Gotterdammerung!

      • Knowing Clam says:

        You know that there’s no actual standing chorus in Rape of Lucretia, right? The Male and Female Chorus are two (individual) characters. Therefore, the ROH Chorus is not involved in this production at all and thus, could likely not have been taken away (nor scheduled away) from their mainstage duties to cover (or sing) a young artist show. And clearly the Jette Parker program didn’t have enough to cover things either–since the Lucretia and Collatinus are imports from America already.

        • Nick2 says:

          I was referring to the full contracted chorus, not the characters in Lucretia. Pulling one out of a main production would be unlikely to affect its artistic integrity. Not ideal, I agree, but a solution to the problem to enable the performance to take place.

  • IP says:

    No!!! Not even a bit of molestation?

  • Sanity says:

    Maybe if opera houses weren’t answering absurd demands from critics for unaffordable numbers of expensive new productions with eight week rehearsal periods, they’d be able to afford covers?

    Just a thought…

  • Whimbrel says:

    Yes, I am sorry and annoyed about the lack of transparency/understudies too. I received the email at 14.23 yesterday afternoon, having travelled 250 miles to see this show. Stuff happens, of course, but they should tell us what’s happened. And today they’ve rubbed salt into wounds by sending me a standard feedback email asking if I enjoyed the performance.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    If the illness is Covid then the entire group including understudies would be shut down. I know nothing about the actual illness involved but Covid would explain this.

  • Dave says:

    I’m sure there have been enough gratuitous rapes at the ROH thanks to directors who shouldn’t have been let near opera. Losing one probably won’t hurt.

  • Joel Kemelhor says:

    Sad that this cancelled performance coincided with the 109th anniversary of the Britten’s birth.

  • M McGrath says:

    Fascinating, how, knowing almost NONE of the FACTS involved, people still proceed full speed ahead into wild assumptions, outrage, second-guessing, criticizing…
    Only Knowing Clam, below, seems to have a well-founded view of things.