Librettist, producer, and stage director Eric Crozier was most closely identified with the works of composer Benjamin Britten, even though he had enjoyed broad experience with a more far-reaching repertory. Time has made clearer still the subtlety and invention of his librettos and his understanding of what worked on-stage. Further distinction came with Crozier's co-founding of the English Opera Group, the company that fostered performances of Britten's stage works. Crozier studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and later at the British Institute in Paris. London's Sadler's Wells Opera engaged him in 1943 for a production of The Bartered Bride. There he directed numerous operas, providing new English translations for many of them. When work on the libretto for Britten's projected Peter Grimes moved slowly and uncertainly from Montagu Slater, Crozier was engaged to consult on issues of stagecraft. During that period, Crozier and Britten became friends and Britten came to trust his judgment. Once the opera was completed and Frederick Guthrie was hired by Sadler's Wells to direct, Crozier was assigned the task of producing and had to deal with a rebellion among several leading singers who disliked the music and objected to the fact that the composer, leading tenor, and producer were conscientious objectors. The success of Peter Grimes with both the public and critics, however, settled the issue of Crozier's further involvement with Britten. He was now a part of the inner circle. After a March 1946 change in policy at Sadler's Wells, Crozier resigned. When Britten's The Rape of Lucretia was given at the 1946 Glyndebourne Festival in July, Crozier was the producer. Early in 1947, the English Opera Group, under discussion since the winter 1945, became a reality. Crozier provided the libretto for Britten's Albert Herring and the text for Saint Nicholas, both premiered in 1948 at the first Aldeburgh Festival. For his collaboration with E.M. Forster on Billy Budd, Crozier researched naval history and wrote the majority of the dialogues, consolidating them with Forster's narrative material. Crozier was married to English mezzo-soprano Nancy Evans, dedicatee of Britten's Charm of Lullabies. He taught for many years at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies.
Share this page