Britten's opera is based on the novella of the same name by Henry James, in which a governess is given charge of two young children in a house she perceives as haunted. The opera was given its British premiere in London on 6 October 1954 by the Sadler's Wells Opera.
Belshazzar's Feast is an oratorio. It was given its premiere at the Leeds Festival on 8 October 1931. The text is taken from the Bible – mainly the Book of Daniel and Psalm 137.