Gloriana

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Gloriana is an opera in three acts by Benjamin Britten to an English libretto by William Plomer, based on Elizabeth and Essex by Lytton Strachey. The first performance was presented at the Royal Opera House, London in 1953 during the celebrations of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Gloriana was the name given by the 16th century poet Edmund Spenser to his character representing Queen Elizabeth I in his poem The Faerie Queene. It became the popular name given to Elizabeth I. It is recorded that the troops at Tilbury hailed her with cries of "Gloriana, Gloriana, Gloriana", after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The opera depicts the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex, and was composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is said to have been disappointed by the opera, which presents the first Elizabeth as a sympathetic, but flawed, character motivated largely by vanity and desire. The premiere was one of Britten's few critical failures, and the opera was not included in the series of complete Decca recordings conducted by the composer. On 22 November 1963, the composer's 50th birthday, Bryan Fairfax conducted a concert performance, which was the opera's first performance in any form since its inaugural production in 1953. However, the work has been well-received in revivals since Britten's death.

A set of Courtly Dances from the opera is often performed separately as a concert piece.

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