For the conductor, singing the title role in Benjamin Britten’s cantata at the age of 19 was a life-changing experience.
My first introduction to the music of Benjamin Britten was in year eight at Crows Nest Boys High School in Sydney. My music teacher thought it a good idea for me to learn some of his folksong arrangements such as Oliver Cromwelland Sally Gardens. I didn’t exactly love them at first sight – they seemed academic, a little too clever for school – but I persisted with them because they had an originality that intrigued me.
Fast forward a few years, I was taken by a friend to the (then) Australian Opera’s production of The Turn of the Screw.It was a dark and brooding work brilliantly realised by Neil Armfield. While I wasn’t old enough to fully understand some of the more “adult” subplots surrounding the curious relationship of Peter Quint to the two children, I remember being quite spooked and finding it ten times more gripping than The Magic Fluteor Carmen.
Then I saw Peter Grimesand suddenly Britten’s music became a life...