My Year of Opera 7 – Peter Grimes

Let’s label this one as “in progress,” shall we? I managed to watch the first act over the weekend until I was rather rudely interrupted by a broken water pipe at my home. Yes, the plumber came to check it out during the storm scene at the end of the act. I’m a little frightened of turning the opera back on for fear of it further infecting my life.

This is the Royal Opera, Covent Garden recording conducted by Colin Davis. Jon Vickers is Grimes.

I’m rather impressed so far. The opening in the court room was much livelier than I expected. And there seems to be a lot of major key stuff happening for some rather dark action. I like how diatonic Britten keeps the singers while making the orchestra do the “heavy lifting” in sense of chromaticism.

The plot is unfolding well. I get a sense of the community and Grimes’ place in it. I don’t remember anyone’s names, though, but why should I? There is that one lady who is sympathetic to Grimes and seems to be the only good person in the town. Grimes hasn’t done much yet and I really don’t know this story well. I’m curious to see what happens.

Sorry to show my ignorance around this extremely famous piece of music but I’ve never seen/heard Peter Grimes before. I’ve really spent most of my life in circles that didn’t contain Britten’s music. I’m glad to correct that error. I did watch Midsummer Night’s Eve a few months back and really enjoyed that. Particularly the Pyramus and Thisby scene. I always like that part of the story.

I really wish I was watching the Met HD version of Peter Grimes from 2008. This 1981 production, while good (Vickers is a trusted name in my limited knowledge of such things) is pretty dated and doesn’t make the best case for the drama.

I’m not expecting a “happily ever after” ending.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Yep, finished the opera earlier this week. I really enjoyed the music of this opera. The production, a little less so. I think there is more drama happening here and everyone on stage seemed a bit stiff.

    The plot was harder and colder than I thought and, that great Act III aria aside, Grimes is remarkably distant and cold. Meaning I never really felt anything for him. My experience was not tied to his, I didn’t have his perspective on things, the kinds of dramatic hooks which are commonplace in most narrative experiences. I was surprised at that.

    I can tell that this is a piece which is hugely rewarding on multiple experiences. I’m going to pick up a recording of it soon and spend some time with it. Grimes made an impact unlike any of the other operas I’ve looked at so far. It will take a while to digest it.

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