[Met Performance] CID:232720
Peter Grimes {26} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/26/1973.

(Debut: Sixten Ehrling
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 26, 1973


PETER GRIMES {26}
Britten-Slater

Peter Grimes............Jon Vickers
Ellen Orford............Lucine Amara
Captain Balstrode.......Donald Gramm
Mrs. Sedley.............Jean Kraft
Auntie..................Lili Chookasian
Niece...................Christine Weidinger
Niece...................Betsy Norden
Hobson..................Andrij Dobriansky
Swallow.................James Morris
Bob Boles...............Paul Franke
Rev. Horace Adams.......Robert Schmorr
Ned Keene...............Gene Boucher
Lawyer..................Fawayne Murphy
Fisherwoman.............Lorraine Keane
Fisherman...............Frank Coffey
John....................Steven Schachtel

Conductor...............Sixten Ehrling [Debut]

Production..............Tyrone Guthrie
Stage Director..........Bodo Igesz
Designer................Tanya Moiseiwitsch

Peter Grimes received six performances this season

Review by New York City correspondent in Opera (UK)

It is only by the tenacity of Benjamin Britten's odd-ball fisherman that the Met keeps a tenuous toehold in mid-twentieth century opera. No other post-war work is in the repertory. "Peter Grimes" was first done in the old house in 1948 and has had two series of revivals in the new. These last have been dominated by the powerful figure of Jon Vickers in the title role, an assumption of searing intensity that brings the knowing customers in so that they may marvel at his dramatic mastery and his musicality. Unfortunately the house is rarely filled on these nights (there were many empty seats on February 26) and nothing dismays the front office more keenly than that; so it may be some time, alas, before we have "Grimes" again.

The work of Jon Vickers generally draws from me the most potent adjectives in the armoury, but I can think of no more commanding male operatic presence in the two decades or so of my busy attendance. He is an actor of such range, power and scope as comes rarely to any age; and married to these abilities is a manly tenor voice of the utmost gleam, driven by a musical sensibility of the first order. Where do you find his equal? He does not slurp or smear the lines as other tenors do; and he takes a role like Grimes completely within himself, projecting precisely the sort of bull-necked outsider who would stir up hostility and fear among fisher-folk. Comparisons are sometimes necessary: I have seen Pears in this role, written with him in mind. He is a great artist, singer and musician, but I can never believe him to be a rough fisherman; village schoolteacher, yes. Grimes may have been created for Pears, but to my mind Vickers has owned the part from the day he started singing it.

Other players: Donald Gramm took over the role of Captain Balstrode recently done here by Sir Geraint Evans, and he too has little to fear from the comparison. Gramm is also a singing actor of the highest order, sure and sonorous of voice, with an unfailing instinct of what works well on stage. Would I could be as laudatory about the performance of Lucine Amara, whose colourless Ellen hardly comes across the footlights, her diction unforgivable in a teacher.

Sixten Ehrling conducted - his house debut. He had been chosen for the assignment by the late Göran Gentele, having done "Grimes" at the Stockholm Opera. His view of the music is perhaps less searingly intense than that of Colin Davis, who last led it here; but he showed throughout a full musicianly control and a practical sense of the right balance between Britten's busy orchestra and the voices it had to contend with.



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