'The Golden Vanity' reviews and synopsis

‘The simplicity, both dramatic and musical, spells pure magic … This is a parlour game translated, capturing in music all of a child’s excitement in a charade.’
The Guardian (Edward Greenfield)

‘Skirling clashes of tones and semitones like stiff breezes, and becalmed murmuring ostinatos, and bold chordal shouts.  The vocal writing is entirely characteristic - already my head is ringing with the three - part chords that Britten sets to “the Lowland, Lowland Sea ” …’
The Times (William Mann)

The boys march on and form two groups, those representing The Golden Vanity and those representing the enemy ship ‘The Turkish Galilee’.  The Golden Vanity is riding the Lowland Sea with a cargo of silver and gold when it comes across the marauding vessel.  The ship floundering and vulnerable from a blast from the pirate ship, the cabin boy asks the captain what his reward would be if he were to sink The Turkish Galilee.  The captain offers him the hand of his ‘pretty little daughter who lives upon the shore’.  The cabin boy dives into the water and swims over the the enemy ship, boring three holes in the side.  As The Turkish Galilee begins to sink, the boy returns to The Golden Vanity but the rascally captain and bosun refuse to let him back on and to honour their promise.  Finally, the crew throw him a rope, but he dies on reaching the deck.  He is buried at sea amid much sorrow and remorse.  His voice can be heard evermore over the spot where he died.


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