Operas with pride: a retrospective

In honour of London’s Pride parade tomorrow, the ETO office looked through our archives and thought it was a chance to highlight a selection of operas written by LGBTQ+ composers. Pride is the perfect time of year to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community’s monumental contribution to the arts. If you have a favourite work that’s been left off the list, let us know. Comment below or tell us on Twitter or Facebook!

Benjamin Britten

paul bunyan
ETO’s Paul Bunyan © Richard Hubert Smith

One of Britain’s most celebrated composers, Benjamin Britten had a unique impact on the direction of British music in the 20th century. He wrote over fifteen operas, an astonishing achievement. Many of the lead tenor roles were premiered by his partner, Peter Pears.  ETO has presented his work four times, with three different operas – Paul Bunyan, Albert Herring, & A Midsummer Nights Dream.


Michael Tippett

ETO’s King Priam © Richard Hubert Smith

Tippett was a contemporary of Benjamin Britten, but couldn’t have been more different. He was a quiet achiever, and he took a long time to develop his compositional voice. He was so embarrassed of his early attempts that he destroyed all of them. However, he did achieve prominence with the premiere of his oratorio – A Child of Our Time. English Touring Opera produced his second major operatic work King Priam in 2014.


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


 ETO’s Eugene Onegin © Richard Hubert Smith

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a name that is synonymous with Russian Romanticism. His charming music are some of the most popular tunes in the whole of the classical canon. But while his pieces have brought joy to many, Tchaikovsky struggled with depression for most of his life. He died at the early age of 53, succumbing to cholera after drinking dirty water, though many historians have theorised it was potentially a suicide. ETO performed probably his most famous opera, Eugene Onegin, back in 2012.

Peter Maxwell Davies


the lighthouse
ETO’s The Lighthouse © Richard Hubert Smith

Salford-born Peter Maxwell Davies had a varied and busy career, working as a composer and conductor, and held the post of Master of the Queen’s Music from 2004. He formed a new music ensemble during his student days in Manchester, with fellow students, and he hosted his own music downloading site (MaxOpus). English Touring Opera performed The Lighthouse in 2012.


Not enough opera? You can listen to our Opera in the Office (which featured LGBTQ+ composers this week) just visit our Facebook page.

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