Opera < Back to list



Ivor Bolton, Musical Director of the Teatro Real, takes on the challenge of conducting one of Benjamin Britten’s least known operas: Gloriana. The work was a commission for the coronation of Elizabeth II, and its debut in Madrid will be on April 12. After last season’s resounding success of Billy Budd, also by Britten, the English conductor will work alongside stage producer David McVicar to present a historical and unpleasant account of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Anna Caterina Antonacci and Alexandra Deshorties will alternate in the principal role, portraying an Elizabeth who is trapped between her obligations as a queen and her tempestuous  relationship with the ambitious Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux.

The Teatro Real wshes to thank the Board of Friends for their sponsorship of Gloriana.


Opera in three acts 

Music by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Libretto by William Plomer, after the book Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History (1928), by Lytton Strachey

Premiered at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden on 8 June 1953

Premiere at the Teatro Real

New production by the Teatro Real, in co-production with the English National Opera and the Vlaamse Opera

Principal Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real

(Coro Intermezzo / Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid)
Pequeños Cantores de la Comunidad de Madrid

Starting Point

During her last years as queen, Elizabeth I of England was a woman pushed to the limit. As the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she continued to carry on her shoulders the responsibilities of a divided kingdom and a church which was independent of Rome. Behind the court splendor, hid a woman who was prisoner of her contradictions, affected by age, and betrayed by the man she loved.

This duality can be seen in a libretto that intentionally combined prose and verse in historical and modern day English. The contrast between public and private life was the starting point for an opera which, by no means, met with the acceptance of British monarchical circles, in its bold portrait of the virgin Queen. Moreover, the opera was considered most inappropriate because of the context of its composition: the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. As a result, and in spite of the unanimous seal of approval for Britten’s dramatically forceful score, the work was neglected until it was accepted decades later. Gloriana continues to be a relatively unique piece and the acknowledgement of it artistic value, an absolute priority. 

Approximate running time

2 hours and 45 minutes
Acts I and II: 1 hour and 20 minutes
25 minute intermission
Act II: 1 hour

Production Team & Cast

  • Musical director: Ivor Bolton
  • Stage director: David McVicar
  • Set designer: Robert Jones
  • Costume designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
  • Lighting designer: Adam Silverman
  • Choreographer: Colm Seery
  • Chorus Master: Andrés Máspero
  • Children's Chorus Master: Ana González
· - ·
  • Queen Elizabeth I: Anna Caterina Antonacci (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24)
    Alexandra Deshorties (Apr. 13, 17, 23)
  • Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: Leonardo Capalbo (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24)
    David Butt Philip (Apr. 13, 17, 23)
  • Frances, Countess of Essex: Paula Murrihy (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 17, 22, 24)
    Hanna Hipp (Apr. 13, 18, 23)
  • Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy: Duncan Rock (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24)
    Gabriel Bermúdez (Apr. 13, 17, 23)
  • Penelope, Lady Rich: Sophie Bevan (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24)
    Maria Miró (Apr. 13, 17, 23)
  • Sir Robert Cecil: Leigh Melrose (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24)
    Charles Rice (Apr. 13, 17, 23)
  • Sir Walter Raleigh: David Soar (Apr. 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24)
    David Steffens (Apr. 13, 17, 23)
  • Henry Cuffe: Benedict Nelson
  • A Lady-in-Waiting: Elena Copons
  • A Blind Ballad-Singer: James Creswell
  • The Recorder of Norwich: Scott Wilde
  • A Housewife: Itxaro Mentxaka
  • The Spirit of the Masque: Sam Furness
  • The Master of Ceremonies: Gerardo López
  • The City Crier: Àlex Sanmartí

Programme of show

If you wish to dowmload a PDF file with the programme of this show, please, fill in the following form:

* Required Fields

Performance Dates

  • 12 APR (T) 22:00h
  • 13 APR (F) 22:00h
  • 14 APR (S) 22:00h
  • 16 APR (M) 22:00h
  • 17 APR (T) 22:00h
  • 18 APR (W) 22:00h
  • 22 APR (S) 20:00h
  • 23 APR (M) 22:00h
  • 24 APR (T) 22:00h
  • Place: Main Auditorium