‘I believe passionately in the intelligibility of the words – opera being a fusion of music, acting, painting and poetry, of which the last-named demands to be understood. Because I do not speak Italian, it was not until I heard Mozart and Verdi operas sung in English that I realized to the full their fabulous subtlety, wit and dramatic aptitude. I always encourage my works to be sung, abroad, in the vernacular, even pieces like the Spring Symphony and the Nocturne, which contain some of the greatest English poetry. Of course, something is lost, but not a great deal when you substitute the gibberish which can result from singers using languages they do not understand and cannot pronounce.’

Benjamin Britten: On Writing English Opera (1960)