Independent 8458

I was slightly disingenuous when only mentioning Verdi and Wagner as operatic anniversaries this year.  2013 is also the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, and, of the three, this is one I most appreciate.  (I have no. 663 of the 3,000 copies of Decca’s Complete Works next to my chair as I write.  There’s no way I’m going to get through it by year end, but I have at least worked through the operas.  Even Lucretia.)

So I had to something special for it, what with the anniversary obligingly falling on a Friday as well.  The usual question arises: how to put something in for fans to spot that doesn’t render the puzzle unsolvable for everyone else.  Britten helpfully has a seven letter surname, so he could appear across the top of a 15×15 grid with the blocks in the odd-numbered rows and columns.

What else?  Some years ago I did a Nina where I split six zodiac signs, putting the first segment on the left of a row, and the second on the right (e.g. CANticle and merCER would fill a row).  Britten’s operas offered suitable material for a similar ploy.  An added treat – but you didn’t need to know them to fill the grid.  Nonetheless, if you’d seen BRITTEN across the top, you might be persuaded to look harder.

Still, it wouldn’t harm to provide a pointer, so I flung in an acrostic in the clues.  I suspect even fewer people will have spotted that, but it’s there.  Meanwhile, the grid fill had thrown up SEES _O_ across the bottom row (the O even coming from another Verdi reference).  TON was attractive, but it gave me some qualms about the word in the bottom right hand corner, so I settled on 100.  DECANI’s a bit rare, but not insuperably so.

So, there we were…n’t, as it occurred to me that 22/11 had a few other associations, particularly from 1963.  So the clues also contain a single reference each to the three deaths that day (yes, C S Lewis’ shrift is rather short).  I couldn’t possibly speculate about the worldwide hoo-hah associated with 23/11, of course, though I’ll be checking the puzzle websites to see…

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