I’m very sad to learn of Rita’s death. Rita was a senior sister at the London Heart Hospital where Britten had his major operation in 1973. They quickly grew a bond, and in 1974 she moved to The Red House to look after him full time. She stayed on after his death, and became almost equally close to Peter Pears. She remained in Aldeburgh for the rest of her life.
I knew her for 45 years, and immensely valued her friendship : her common sense and plain speaking, which had made her so important to Britten, could always be relied on, and even in her last years, when she was suffering from a brain tumour, her mind remained as sharp as ever. In 2003 she and I taped a long conversation, which I have put into the Articles section of the website.
Photograph is by Nigel Luckhurst, © Britten-Pears Foundation.
June 1976, rehearsal for the first performance of Phaedra, CM, Janet Baker, Britten, Rita