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Britten: Peter Grimes / Graham-Hall, Gritton, Purves, Palmer, Wyn-Rogers. Teatro alla Scalla, Ticciati [DVD]

Notes & Reviews:

The Italian and international press were unanimous in their praise for Peter Grimes at La Scala, which revived the tradition of Britten’s operas on the lyric stages of Italy. A strong British cast was marshaled by the baton of Robin Ticciati, who has already won golden opinions for his opera conducting.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 168 min.
Region: 0
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): PCM 2.0, DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English, German, French


Interesting and somewhat disturbing new Grimes
Interesting and somewhat disturbing new Grimes This new video of Britten's masterpiece opera "Peter Grimes" gives us an excellent performance from an all English cast in this 2012 La Scala production. The performances are wonderful. John Graham-Hall and Susan Gritton as the troubled loner fisherman and his sympathetic soul mate, Ellen; also a bit of a lost soul, are wonderful. Montagu Slater's libretto, after the poem "The Borough" by George Crabbe, uses the metaphor of the old-fashioned, cantankerous Grimes in a small, gossipy fishing village to point out the tragedy of gossip veiled in religious hypocrisy. Contemporary designer Richard Jones' production places the story in a strange mid-1980s world where people go to church, but still find time to support the local brothels and pubs and dance studios (the scenes of some disco-type choreography instead of what was supposed to be barn dance are a bit hokey and distracting) The tragic sub-element in the story is Grimes' poor fortune with young boy "apprentices" who have run away, died and - ultimately - one last accidental death. In both the original setting and now this modernized view, the older, anti-social "old school" fisherman as a potential pedophile plays heavily but Jones' setting - and the wonderful but troubling portrayal by Francesco Malvuccio as the "boy" - it veers a little more uncomfortably in that direction. Another angle here is that Graham-Hall portrays Peter Grimes as a man quite "on the edge" psychologically; this performance is wonderful but quite a bit different than the stoic, stubborn vision of Jon Vickers, for example. (The penultimate scene in which Grimes holds an out-loud imaginary conversation with Ellen that begins with proposal and ends in her rebuffing him is pretty manic) Some of the secondary roles are great too, especially Felicity Palmer as the two-faced, self righteous "Auntie" The orchestra and choir of the Teatro alla Scala perform wonderfully and Robin Ticciati is a bit quirky but very controlled and accurate Britten interpreter. This is an interesting and very irony rich view of the classic story with great performances. I do not think I would make this my only video performance of "Peter Grimes" but is well worth having in a library of contemporary treatments of masterworks!
Submitted on 06/24/13 by Dan Coombs 
Excellent performance of a very difficult opera
The Opus Arte label has been putting out some wonderful operas on DVD, and this one is no exception. I had never seen Peter Grimes before, and the performances were excellent, keeping this viewer glued to the screen while watching Peter’s downward spiral as he loses his second apprentice. The sets were definitely an asset to the story being told (updated somewhat for more modern times), and the tavern was on a moving structure that allowed it to tilt one way and then the other during the storm sequence. Everything had a “coastal” feel to it, which was a definite plus given the situations that the characters found themselves in.

With respect to the performances themselves, John Graham-Hall did a marvelous job, bringing just the right amount of edginess and unsettled feeling to Peter. Susan Gritton was fantastic as Ellen, obviously caring for Peter and believing in him – which is almost the only support Peter has. Kudos also go to the two nieces (Ida Falk Winland and Simona Mihai), for the sheer relish they brought to their, shall we say, “party girl” roles. Also noteworthy were Peter Hoare in the role of the very religious and hypocritical Bob Boles, and Francesco Malvuccio as the Boy. While the Boy did not have a speaking role, Mr. Malvuccio’s performance was such that you felt sorry for both the Boy *and* Peter at the same time.

The music is multi-layered, and Robin Ticciati leads the orchestra in a very heart-felt performance of the music. You can see his depth of caring during the interludes in the piece, and in what he has to say in the insightful extra on the disc. I really enjoyed this recording, and strongly recommend it.

Submitted on 08/14/13 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : Peter Grimes
  • Performers: Christoper Gillett; Susan Gritton; Peter Hoare; Francesco Malvuccio; Simona Mihai; Daniel Okulitch; Felicity Palmer; Christopher Purves; Ida Winland; Catherine Wyn-Rogers
  • Conductor: Robin Ticciati
  • Ensemble: Coro del Teatro alla Scalla
  • Running Time: 168 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1944
  • Studio/Live: Live