'...a work of overwhelming force and certainty, perhaps even his most brilliant achievement since Curlew River.'
Stephen Walsh, The Observer, 20 June 1976

'A stunning experiment in the field of dramatic music...'
Peter Stadlen, The Daily Telegraph, 17 June 1976

'...has an extraordinary bleakness, like cold stone in winter sunlight.  The instruments, mainly strings and percussion, are systematically drained of colour, yet the final moments offer some of the most delicate orchestration ever written.'
Bernard Holland, The New York Times, 19 February 1994

'If effect Britten has been inspired to create an oepra in microcosm...its concentration in four tautly-drawn sections, ending in a powerfully Purcellian death scene, speaks in a recognisably individual Britten voice, moulded to the art of a great singing actress...'
Edward Greenfield, The Guardian, 17 June 1976