Britten’s opera Peter Grimes at #Enescuonline – A powerful allegory of fate, prejudice, ambiguity, and dissent
Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, one of the major operas of the 20th century, was premiered in a concert version in Bucharest, in September 2019, as part of the George Enescu International Festival. The Romanian National Radio Orchestra performed on the Grand Palace Hall stage under the baton of British conductor Paul Daniel, alongside the Radio Academic Choir conducted by Ciprian Țuțu.
Peter Grimes is a psychologically penetrating portrait of a tortured outsider antihero versus the cruelty of a small-town mob. Considered a true masterpiece of the 20th-century repertoire, Benjamin Britten’s work was accompanied in Bucharest by a multimedia drama projection created by Carmen Lidia Vidu, which brought graphic clarity to the plot and enriched the audience experience. The National Radio Orchestra and the Radio Academic Choir, conducted by Paul Daniel and Ciprian Ţuțu respectively, transposed the force of the story into a powerful interpretation and offered dramatic nuances to the text and subtext.
“I have drawn the entire film of the opera frame by frame. There are at least 500 drawings transformed into 500 sequences to be screened to the conductor Paul Daniel’s tempo. Moreover, we tried to draw the characters according to the cast present in the Enescu Festival. Illustrator Gabi Skinder has done tremendous work, and Julien Javions is the one who transformed the drawings into a film”, said Carmen Lidia Vidu.
The cast features world-renowned lyrical artists, the leading role being interpreted by tenor Ian Storey, one of the most appreciated voices of the international stage for both his performance of Wagner’s operas and remarkable nuances he brings to the role of Peter Grimes.
The cast also includes soprano Lise Davidsen – Ellen Orford, contralto Catherine Wyn-Rogers – Auntie, baritone Christopher Purves – Balstrode, mezzo-soprano Diana Montague – Mrs. Sedley, bass Joshua Bloom – Swallow, baritone Huw Montague Rendall – Ned Keene, tenor Michael Colvin – Bob Boles, tenor Bonaventura Bottone – Reverend Horace Adams, bass Barnaby Rea – Hobson, soprano Solomia Lukyanets – first niece, and soprano Rhian Lois – second niece.
Benjamin Britten was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His work Peter Grimes (composed in 1945; libretto by Montagu Slater after George Crabbe’s poem from The Borough) had a great and unexpected public success, which placed Britten at the forefront of 20th-century opera composers.
What inspired and urged Benjamin Britten to compose the opera was the story of fisherman Peter Grimes, although the final libretto strays from its source of inspiration. Music historians note that Britten discovered by chance, on an antique bookstore’s shelf, the collection of poems The Borough by 17th-century British poet George Crabbe, where he speaks of fisherman Grimes and his life in a small fishing town. The story reminded Britten of Suffolk, his native town, and moved him to turn the poem into an opera. Thus, fisherman Grimes, a rough, merciless outcast accused of killing his apprentices, has become a reference name in the world of music.
Peter Grimes is available online April 11-14 for free with Boosey & Hawkes agreement.
photo credit: Andrei Gîndac