Opera at Rutgers presents Benjamin Britten’s "The Rape of Lucretia" November 16 to 17

Sahoko SatoOpera brings ancient Rome to life in a production of Benjamin Britten’s opera, The Rape of Lucretia. The opera will have two performances, a fully staged version at Nicholas Music Center in New Brunswick on Saturday, November 16, 2013, and a fully staged version at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on Sunday, November 17, 2013.

Producer Pamela Gilmore believes that Lucretia’s (student Sahoko Sato, left) loving relationship with husband Collatinus is relatable to the modern woman. “The fact that they are faithful to each other is seen as almost bizarre by the Romans of the day,” Gilmore points out, “and yet at the same time they have tremendous respect for it because it is so rare.”

“What is important about Lucretia is this was a time in which women were considered chattel… and yet the relationship between Lucretia and Collatinus, even in Rome at the time, was seen as a beacon of rationality and beauty,” Gilmore says of the star role. “Their relationship and marriage was viewed as exemplary for what a true relationship and marriage for love rather than convenience or political gain could be.”

As Gilmore notes, “[Lucretia] was almost alone in her time: She was so different from the milieu of women and wives of her time, and she speaks so eloquently of her love for Collatinus and for the kind of relationship that they have.”

Other modern voices in the opera are the male and female choruses, as they play on the opera’s focus on male and female relationships.

“The female chorus is all empathy [while] the male chorus has an almost uncanny ability to read the minds of the male characters,” Gilmore says. “It’s very interesting, [the male chorus is] almost psychic in the way [it] is able to channel [a male character’s] thought processes.” She says that this device, along with the production’s use of screen projections, will convey both the lightness and darkness within the opera.

“We really want to feature the beauty of the score and the beauty of some of [these] relationships,” Gilmore says. “It’s not purely black and white–there’s a whole lot of gray in there.”  

The Rape of Lucretia rruns 2 p.m. Saturday, November 16, 2013, at Nicholas Music Center and 8 p.m. Sunday, November 17, 2013, at Le Poisson Rouge, in New York City . Tickets for the New Brunswick production are $15 for the general public, $10 for Rutgers alumni, employees and senior citizens, $5 for students with valid I.D. Tickets for Le Poisson Rouge performance are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. They should be purchased at www.lepoissonrouge.com/lpr_events/britten-at-100/. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu, or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 848-932-7511.

Posted October 2013