Opera has a radical history of political and social engagement, and this essay is a contribution to that history. It takes as its point of departure a relatively minor opera by Benjamin Britten, Albert Herring (1947), which it places in context, revealing that what is usually taken to be a slight, nostalgic comedy is a staging of generational revolt, which subverts the conventional conservatism of the pastoral, turning it towards a socialist vision at one with the direction of the interventionist Labour government then newly elected to office. Britten's own role as a socialist cultural broker between the worlds of rural working people and comfortably off opera‐goers is emphasized, as is the consistency of his left‐wing political commitment, from the 1930s to the end of his working life in the early 1970s, when he composed a pacifist opera for the BBC, Owen Wingrave , and his last work for the stage, Death in Venice . The movement of Britten's operatic career, post Albert Herring , from the private‐finance initiative of John Christie's Glyndebourne to the publicly‐funded Arts Council masterminded by John Maynard Keynes, is symptomatic of the socialist politics of the composer and the operas that he created in post Second World War England.
In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to,
you must first login
or sign up.
Then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page by
clicking on your user name at the top right of any screen.