Sunday, March 16, 2008

Peter Grimes in HD

Saturday, March 15, 2008
The Metropolitan Opera HD Live
PETER GRIMES Benjamin Britten

Conductor Donald Runnicles
Production John Doyle
Set Designer Scott Pask
Costume Designer Ann Hould-Ward
Lighting Designer Peter Mumford

Hobson Dean Peterson
Swallow John Del Carlo
Peter Grimes Anthony Dean Griffey
Mrs. Sedley Felicity Palmer
Ellen Orford Patricia Racette
Auntie Jill Grove
Bob Boles Greg Fedderly
Balstrode Anthony Michaels-Moore
Rev. Horace Adams Bernard Fitch
First Niece Leah Partridge
Second Niece Erin Morley
Ned Keene Teddy Tahu Rhodes
Boy Logan William Erickson
Villagers Roger Andrews, David Asch, Kenneth Floyd, David Frye, Jason Hendrix, Mary Hughes, Robert Maher, Timothy Bresse Miller, Jeffrey Mosher, Richard Pearson,
Mark Persing, Mitchell Sendrowitz, Daniel Clark Smith, Lynn Taylor, Joseph Turi

I got to the Westfield Mall at 9:45am, way before the broadcast start of 10:30am. There was already a line waiting to get into the theater, which hadn't opened its doors yet. & this for an opera that I would consider a hard sell!

I've never heard this opera before, so the things that made an immediate impression on me were the descriptive sea music & the climactic 3rd act chorus. I found the characters to be a uniformly unpleasant bunch. I don't buy the concept of the ambiguity of Peter Grimes's guilt. He is negligent, abusive & a menace. The problem is that no one has a good way to deal with him.

Musically this sounded like a terrific production. It was fun to see our own Donald Runnicles in the pit. He gave a lot of shape to the music. In his intermission interview, he praised this opera for its pictorial & psychological qualities. The sweet-voiced Anthony Dean Griffey displayed complete identification with his character. Felicity Palmer gave the best & funniest acting performance as the addled & gossipy Mrs. Sedley. Teddy Tahu Rhodes seems to have a commanding & powerful voice.

The production style is abstract & at odds with the more naturalist music & action. The flat set & static staging probably aren't well-suited for a broadcast presentation. Perhaps seeing those walls move back & forth works better in the theater.

A wild-eyed Natalie Dessay was the broadcast host. There was one nice intermission feature that went live to Aldeburgh, where the opera is set & where Britten lived. A presenter stood outside the local cinema where people were watching the broadcast. Must have been interesting to be in that theater & watching a live segment showing the theater you are in!

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