[Met Performance] CID:217810
Peter Grimes {19} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/13/1969.

(Debuts: Gail Leonard, John Allan
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 13, 1969


PETER GRIMES {19}
Britten-Slater

Peter Grimes............Jon Vickers
Ellen Orford............Lucine Amara
Captain Balstrode.......Geraint Evans
Mrs. Sedley.............Jean Madeira
Auntie..................Lili Chookasian
Niece...................Mary Ellen Pracht
Niece...................Lilian Sukis
Hobson..................Paul Plishka
Swallow.................Raymond Michalski
Bob Boles...............Paul Franke
Rev. Horace Adams.......Robert Schmorr
Ned Keene...............Gene Boucher
Lawyer..................William Mellow
Fisherwoman.............Gail Leonard [Debut]
Fisherman...............Edward Ghazal
John....................John Allan [Debut]

Conductor...............Colin Davis

Production..............Tyrone Guthrie
Designer................Tanya Moiseiwitsch

Peter Grimes received seven performances this season.

Review of Raymond Ericson in The New York Times

Benjamin Britten's 'Peter Grimes' Revived at Met

Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" was one of the many new productions created for the Metropolitan Opera's inaugural season in its new house two seasons ago. In musical terms it was one of the company's more successful efforts at the time. But this brooding, gloomy work, evoking life in an English coastal village a century ago, obviously was not to the taste of many of the subscribers, and the enthusiasm for it came from the work's admirers outside the regular Met orbit. So, in a way, it was generous of the company to bring it back after a season's absence, even for only five performances.

"Grimes" is now 23 years old, but for those who like it, it remains one of the best and most durable of postwar operas. Britten's first opera of consequence, it has a youthful energy and frank use of standard theatrical devices that are engaging, The score is less sophisticated than the more mature operas, but it is also more spontaneous and powerful. It is particularly resplendent in its orchestral color and choral writing, and, like the best of the composer's works, it is helped enormously by its literary elements.
The production of "Peter Grimes" was revived virtually intact, which generally was advantageous. There were only a few minor cast changes Thursday from that of two years ago. Colin Davis was again on hand to conduct and Tyrone Guthrie returned to repeat his staging. Mr. Davis's presence is the production's most important asset since he gives the score a strong musical pulse, and he was in complete control of the performance, even when the orchestra played less than accurately.

Tanya Moiseiwitsch's gray sets of stone and bleached wood, with the only color supplied sparsely in the costumes, seem just right for the opera. Mr. Guthrie's direction, on the other hand, is always aimed for the effective tableau or striking visual movement without regard to appositeness or style.

Jon Vickers - a hulking, almost brutish figure - gave the title role its rude strength and its fleeting passages of tenderness. He has a vocal mannerism that is irritating - swelling into a tone more often than not - but otherwise his singing was impressive. In quietly effective acting and singing, Geraint Evans suggested all of Captain Balstrode's humanity. Lucine Amara seemed a better Ellen Orford than two years ago, but she is still rather pallid as Grimes's most sympathetic friend. There were many fine supporting performances, too many to single out here.

The performance suffered one accident: The fog that is supposed to engulf the final scene, engulfed the audience as well, to the extent that the conductor was no longer visible from the auditorium.



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