Archive Treasures: Joan Cross’ wartime cast books

Archive Treasures: Joan Cross’ wartime cast books

Monday August 3 2020

Joan Cross began her operatic career in 1923 when she joined the chorus of the Vic-Wells Opera Company, then throughout the 1930s she enjoyed success as one of the leading sopranos of the Sadler’s Wells Opera Company taking on a wide range of solo roles. In September 1940 Sadler’s Wells Theatre was requisitioned by Finsbury […]

Archive Treasures: Decimalisation

Monday July 27 2020

The archive at the Red House tells the story of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears: their lives together, their creative work and how they formed part of a wider creative circle. Like any archive, however, its content is broad and unpredictable: the story of a life is also the story of that person’s times, and […]

Archive Treasures: Nearly A Rabbit’s Tale

Monday July 20 2020

Did you ever imagine Peter Pears donning a fox’s costume for an opera, or that Britten would try his hand at set design? If not read on… Amid the catalogue of works Britten was forced to discard sits plans for an opera that must, at one stage, have been very close to his heart, not […]

Archive Treasures: Hardy’s Time’s Laughingstocks and Other Verses

Monday July 13 2020

Britten owned a large collection of verse anthologies as well as volumes of specific authors in his library. Of these volumes the one with the most interesting provenance may be this first edition of Thomas Hardy’s poems – Time’s Laughingstocks and Other Verses. Two letters from Hardy found in the cover of the volume reveal […]

Archive Treasures: African National Congress

Tuesday July 7 2020

In the archive at the Red House, there is shelf after shelf of Benjamin Britten’s correspondence: its cataloguing was recently completed by a team of volunteers, after which the final total stood at over eleven thousand files. Much of it is professional and there is also personal correspondence such as the intimate, affectionate letters that […]

Archive Treasures: Nicholson’s Guide to British Waterways

Monday June 29 2020

Visitors entering the Red House are met by one of our volunteers, who will explain how they should safely make their way around the house and equip them with the protective footwear that protects the historic floor-coverings. All the visitors’ focus is forwards, towards the person greeting them, and it is very easy not to […]

Archive Treasures: Peter Pears’ gift of Winterreise

Monday June 22 2020

Britten and Pears’ first public performance of Schubert’s masterpiece was memorable for various reasons, not least of which is an archive treasure, a ‘stolen’ birthday present. Britten and Pears’ song recitals were often highlights of the Aldeburgh Festival. The rapport they established on stage is summarised by Britten’s publisher Erwin Stein who, following his 1957 […]

Archive Treasures: From Dr. Who’s Daleks to Britten’s baleful fisherman

Monday June 8 2020

Wonder what the above could possibly have in common? In three words: David Myerscough-Jones. Discover more about the work this artist did when he envisioned Britten’s Borough and ghosts for television Following studies in his native Lancashire this talented artist embarked on a career in designing for theatre first in Scotland and later in London. In […]

Archive treasure: Pears’ copy of Mansfield Park

Monday June 1 2020

As one would expect, the Britten Pears Archive strong room is full of stories about works Britten composed. Just as interesting though are the stories about works which weren’t written. Some projects got no further than a letter suggesting them to Britten. Such a letter was sent from poet Philip Larkin in 1974 explaining that […]

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