Britten: The Historic BBC Films [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Peter Grimes (London Symphony Orchestra)
As originally aired in 1969 on the BBC, this actually constitutes a filmed recording of Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes, starring Peter Pears in the title role. Soprano Joan Cross staged the production and John Culshaw mounted it; Britten conducts. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

The Beggar's Opera
This stage performance of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears' 1948 adaptation of composer John Gay's seminal three-act ballad opera The Beggar's Opera originally aired on the BBC in 1963; it stars Janet Baker as Polly Peachum, Kenneth McKellar as Captain Macheath, Bryan Drake as Lockit and Heather Harper as Lucy Lockit. The English Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Meredith Davies, lends added musical accompaniment; Colin Graham produced. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

As filmed in 1970 and screened on the BBC, this stage production constitutes a rendition of Franz Schubert's legendary song cycle, Winterreise, performed by Peter Pears and accompanied by (the offscreen) composer/pianist Benjamin Britten. Each song in the cycle is both staged and preceded by an introductory voice-over. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Owen Wingrave (English Chamber Orchestra)
Billy Budd
This release constitutes a stage production of Benjamin Britten's celebrated 1951 opera Billy Budd, which Britten, in turn, adapted from Herman Melville's unfinished novella. It was filmed in black-and-white by the BBC in 1966 and stars the legendary Peter Pears as Captain Vere. Basil Coleman directs. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

As a single installment in the Britten-Pears series of classical performance films, Idomeneo originally aired on the BBC in 1969. It constitutes one of the first ever filmed performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's titular opera, here performed in English by famed British tenor Peter Pears, as well as Robert Tear and Heather Harper. Benjamin Britten conducts. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

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