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Nancy Evans and Eric Crozier


Eric Crozier and Nancy Evans with Britten and Pears, 1947 A collection of papers relating to Nancy Evans, the English mezzo-soprano (1915-2000) and her second husband the librettist, author and director Eric Crozier (1914-1994).

Nancy Evans made her début in recital in Liverpool in 1933, singing for the first time in London a year later. Her stage début was in Sullivan's The Rose of Persia (1938, London); in 1939 she sang small roles at Covent Garden. During the war she sang widely for the Entertainments National Services Association. She joined what was to become the English Opera Group in 1946, alternating with Kathleen Ferrier in the title role of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne. In 1947 she created Nancy in Albert Herring, and later sang Polly in Britten’s version of The Beggar’s Opera, Purcell’s Dido, and Lucinda Woodcock in Arne’s Love in a Village. In 1968 she created the Poet and seven other characters in Malcolm Williamson’s The Growing Castle. A noted concert singer, she was the dedicatee and first performer, at the 1948 Holland Festival, of Britten's A Charm of Lullabies; in recital she specialized in French and 20th-century British song repertory.

Crozier was one of the first drama producers for BBC Television. Following the outbreak of World War II he worked first with Tyrone Guthrie at the Old Vic and then with Sadler’s Wells. His first production for the company, The Bartered Bride in 1943, was followed in 1945 by Peter Grimes. After dissension arose within the organization he left and co-founded the English Opera Group in 1947 and the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948 with Britten, John Piper and Pears.

The success of Crozier’s first libretto, Albert Herring (1947), led to further collaboration with Britten; Let’s Make an Opera (1948), and, with EM Forster, Billy Budd (1951). Crozier also wrote the libretto for Lennox Berkeley’s Ruth (1956) and directed the premières of Peter Grimes (1945, London; 1946, Tanglewood) and The Rape of Lucretia (1946, Glyndebourne). His opera translations include The Bartered Bride, Otello, Falstaff and La traviata (all with Joan Cross), Idomeneo, Salome and Die Frau ohne Schatten. Crozier also wrote books for children and was an accomplished broadcaster. He was a tutor at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies at Snape Maltings, with his wife, who succeeded Peter Pears as director.

This collection comprises material relating to the singing career of Nancy Evans, notably press reviews, programmes, photographs and diaries. The files also include programmes of her BBC broadcasts, and correspondence and papers concerning professional engagements, including her work with the English Opera Group.

Eric Crozier's papers contain draft and printed articles and translations, including notes and writings about aspects of opera production, Britten and Britten's operas. There are also transcripts of talks, interviews and BBC Radio 3 broadcasts including items about Billy Budd, Thomas Hardy and EM Forster.

The collection includes correspondence with a wide range of composers, artists and other figures including Britten and Pears, EM Forster, John and Myfanwy Piper, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Malcolm Williamson and John Mansfield Thomson. Evans's and Crozier's draft biography and the script of J M Thomson’s interview with the couple may also be of interest.

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