Saint Nicolas - A Cantata by Britten

The Cantata, St. Nicolas is based on the life of St Nicolas, a fourth-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra in Asia minor. Little is known of him, but many legends abound.                                         

He was known as a worker of wonders and is the patron Saint of many groups including children, travellers (especially sailors), brewers and pawn brokers. He is also thought to be the model for the modern Santa Claus.  The Cantata was written by Benjamin Britten in 1948 using text by Eric Crozier and it was first performed in 1948 at the Aldeburgh Festival.

It tells the dramatic stories of the life of the saint, with each of the nine scenes describing a different episode in Nicolas’s life. The work was intended to be performed by an amateur choir and employs a variety of vocal groupings with a small orchestra. Despite the minimalist scoring, the work is rich with drama and imagery. 

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