CCM Opera brings harrowing myth to life in 'The Rape of Lucretia'

Britten’s chamber opera runs Nov 16-19 in the Patricia Corbett Theater

Story by CCM Graduate Assistant Lucy Evans

UC College-Conservatory of Music's Opera series presents Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. The opera, one of the masterpieces of the English repertoire, runs Thursday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Nov 19 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are on sale now through the CCM Box Office.

Premiered at Glyndebourne in 1946, Britten’s opera is at once epic, mythological and deeply private. Traditionally, the myth concerns Lucretia, a Roman noblewoman whose rape and subsequent suicide leads to a rebellion that establishes the Roman Republic. Content advisory: For mature audiences, this production contains scenes of self-harm and sexual violence.

Lucretia’s traumatic ordeal is often framed as the catalyst for social progress. Britten and his librettist, Ronald Duncan, however, narrow the scope of the myth to a more human level, focusing on the events that immediately precede and follow the assault of the title character. Set against the backdrop of war, the opera exposes the ways in which violence invades and shatters private lives to devastating effect.

Britten’s music is both ravishing and inscrutable, atmospheric and intimate. “I always like to solve the riddles that the composer asks in the music,” says Daria Zholnerova, CCM Artist Diploma in Opera Directing student and the director of The Rape of Lucretia. “Britten, being a genius composer, has the opportunity for many interpretations.”

Zholnerova employs symbolic theatrical techniques—including animal puppets which act as “alter-egos” for each character—that lend the production an element of fantasy. In relying on symbolism rather than realism, the production emphasizes “that this story has no time frame and can happen today in the same way as it did in ancient Roman antiquity,” she says.

While the subject matter of the opera is at times difficult to watch, Zholnerova believes it is an important story to tell. “Unfortunately, there is still so much violence in our world,” she says. “We can make a choice: to talk about it or not. A theater is a tribune. If we don’t talk about unpleasant but important things, the theater will retain only its entertainment function…We must show our viewers how disgusting any violence is,” she insists, but also “that there is hope in the world, and that good will win.”

The Rape of Lucretia

Composed by Benjamin Britten   
Libretto by Ronald Duncan, after the play by André Obey

Content advisory: For mature audiences, contains scenes of self-harm and sexual violence.

By arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., publisher and copyright owner.

  • Conductor | William Langley, alumni guest artist
  • Director | Darya Zholnerova 
  • Faculty Advisor | Robin Guarino
  • Scenic Designer | Mark Halpin
  • Lighting Designer | Kristen Peck *
  • Costume Designer |  Jayna Fry *
  • Sound Designer | Brian Haack *
  • Wig & Make-Up Designer | Tiara Jones *
  • Production Stage Manager | Annalee Crosser *  
  • Technical Director | Troy Brizius
  • Props Manager | Mia Adrian *
  • Choreographer and Intimacy Director | Susan Moser

*CCM student

  • Lucretia | Salleigh Harvey*, Tess Klibanoff^
  • Tarquinius | Erik Nordstrom*, Soren Pedersen^
  • Male Chorus | Carlos Ahrens*, Henry Benson^
  • Female Chorus | Lauryn Davis*, Tanya Harris^
  • Junius | Ryan Henry*, John Potvin^
  • Collatinus | John Mburu*, Cole Stephenson^
  • Bianca | Diamond Sparks*, Junyue Gong^
  • Lucia | Oliva Knutsen*, Holly Thomas^

* Performs Thursday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 18
^ Performs Friday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 19

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19 


Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village 
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets

Tickets: $36 adult, $20 student, $15 UC faculty/staff, $10 UC student, $5 CCM student; group discounts available

 Experiencing the magic of CCM OnStage has never been easier! Purchase your tickets:

CCM’s Box Office hours are 1-5 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, and one hour prior to curtain for ticketed performances. Hours subject to change based on the University of Cincinnati calendar. Our Box Office staff is always ready to answer your questions by phone at 513-556-4183 or email at

UC Student Ticket Options

Current UC students can purchase up to two tickets for each CCM OnStage concert and show at the discounted rate of just $10 per ticket; the discounted rate for current CCM students is $5 per ticket. Learn more.

Student discounts do not apply to CCM development fundraising events.

Directions and Parking

CCM is located on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. For detailed driving directions, visit

Parking is available in UC's CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Effective July 1, 2023, all University of Cincinnati Parking Services locations will become cashless. Pay for parking securely with your credit/debit card. All major credit cards accepted.

CCM OnStage patrons can add pre-paid parking to their checkout carts when purchasing tickets. Pre-paid parking is date/performance specific. CCM Garage parking rates for a performance or special event is usually available for $10-15. Learn more about parking at UC's CCM Garage.

For additional information on parking at UC, please visit

Next OnStage

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All event dates and programs are subject to change. For a complete calendar of events, please visit

Headshot of Lucy Evans

Lucy Evans

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Lucy Evans is an artist diploma student studying Opera-Vocal Performance at CCM. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and was recently an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera.

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