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The Sunday Opera: Britten's "Peter Grimes" from Madrid's Teatro Real

Benjamin Britten’s 1945 opera about the end of the troubled life of the titular character, Peter Grimes, is this week’s Sunday Opera (12/5 3:00 p.m.) in a production from Madrid’s Teatro Real.   At the opera’s opening, Grimes (Allan Clayton) is being questioned at an inquest regarding the death of his apprentice at sea.   Even though Swallow (Clive Bayley), the town’s coroner, declares the death to be accidental, the townspeople believe Grimes is truly the cause.  Only Ellen Orford (Maria Bengtsson) and retired sea captain, Captain Balstrode (Christopher Purves) seem to want to give Grimes a second chance.   Ellen’s support changes when she notices bruises on Grimes’ second apprentice and realizes that Grimes has lost control of his temper.   Everything comes to a head when the townspeople rise up against Grimes, and as he and the new apprentice try to escape to the sea, the apprentice falls off a cliff and disappears into the sea below.  Grimes, who is teetering on the edge of sanity, is told by Balstrode to take his boat out to sea and scuttle it as Grimes’ death is his only escape.   Other members of the cast include Catherine Wyn-Rogers as Auntie, John Craham-Hall as Bob Boles, and James Gilchrist as Rev. Horace Adams.  Ivor Bolton conducts. 

Join Michael Kownacky after the opera for more music of Britten’s music including the cello symphony he wrote for Dmitri Rostropovich and his suite based on themes from his opera “Glorianna.”  

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.