THE BLOG

Is Peter Grimes the Best British Opera From the Last Two Centuries?

31/01/2014 13:12 GMT | Updated 01/04/2014 10:59 BST

Peter Grimes composed by Benjamin Britten after a poem by George Crabbe returns to the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. It is about a judgmental society and ticks off quite a few boxes to never fail to attract the attention of the public with a such a thought provoking piece. We can see how Benefits Street, the infamous Channel 4 documentary about the lifestyle of the inhabitants in a street in Birmingham, has engaged everybody with strong opinions on how they should live their life and how it has been portrayed on TV. Are we able to reach our own individual conclusions or we just follow the flock like a sheep when expressing our thoughts?

Peter Grimes, which opened last Wednesday 29th of January, with just eight performances, explores they way a community reacts to the different, to the others, and it shows that not much has changed over the years. A great production by David Alden following successful performances in Berlin, Antwerp, Ghent, Oviedo and at the BBC Proms 2012 in a semi-staged performance. Reaffirming ENO as the world's leading producer of Britten's operas. This hotly anticipated revival reunites director David Alden with ENO Music Director Edward Gardner and Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton in the title role. This is the first revival of David Alden's 2009 five-star sell-out production which won the South Bank Show Award for Opera.

ENO's Music Director Edward Gardner rekindles his close association with Britten's work, having also conducted ENO productions of Death in Venice and David Alden's Billy Budd, for which he received an Olivier nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.

Completing the creative team is Set Designer Paul Steinberg, Costume Designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel, Lighting Designer Adam Silverman and Movement Director Maxine Braham.

Stuart Skelton takes the title role once again giving his remarkable, multifaceted portrayal of the disturbed outsider. Skelton's 2009 performance in the role won unanimous praise from critics, who compared his portrayal of Grimes to that of Peter Pears, Philip Langridge and Jon Vickers.

This much anticipated revival introduces two new major singers to the production. British baritone Iain Paterson sings Balstrode for the first time in a fully staged production following his outstanding performance at the BBC Proms in 2012 with ENO. The internationally celebrated South African soprano Elza Van den Heever makes her London operatic and role debut singing Ellen Orford. Her colourful velvety voice is a magical treasure. Van den Heever recently made her debut with New York's Metropolitan Opera, singing the role of Elizabeth in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, described by the New York Times as "vocally burnished and emotionally tempestuous".

The definitive Mrs Sedley is sung by Dame Felicity Palmer. Rebecca de Pont Davies (Auntie), Michael Colvin (Bob Boles), Matthew Best (Swallow) and Leigh Melrose (Ned Keene) also reprise their roles in this revival.

Showcasing the best of young British operatic talent, ENO Harewood Artists Rhian Lois and Mary Bevan take the roles of First and Second Niece, completing a cast of outstanding vocal strength for this spectacular revival.

Peter Grimes opens at the London Coliseum on 29 January 2014 for 8 performances - 29 January & 6, 14, 21, 27 February, 7pm, 1, 8 February, 6pm and 23 February, 3.00pm. Peter Grimes is being broadcast live as part of ENO Screen on Sunday 23 February, 3.00pm to over 300 cinemas across UK and Ireland.

A co-production with De Vlaamse Opera, Opera de Oviedo and Deutsche Oper Berlin

Original production supported by ENO's English Opera Group.