Gallery: Peter Grimes returns home to Aldeburgh in Britten’s sea-faring tragic opera of a Suffolk fishing community

Peter Grimes returned home to Aldeburgh tonight when Brittens sea-faring opera was finally staged i

Peter Grimes returned home to Aldeburgh tonight when Brittens sea-faring opera was finally staged in the town that inspired the story 68 years ago. - Credit: Archant

Peter Grimes returned home to Aldeburgh tonight when Britten’s sea-faring opera was finally staged in the town that inspired the story 68 years ago.

A sell-out crowd braved the chill wind to marvel at this ambitious staging of Britten’s tragic story of a Suffolk fishing community, which forms part of the Aldeburgh Festival.

International opera director Tim Albery constructed a vast boardwalk on the shingle to act as a stage and then decorated the set with a series of upturned fishing boats making it look as if a giant storm had swept these fragile craft up out of the water.

Aldeburgh Music’s chief executive Jonathan Reekie said that although Aldeburgh had inspired Britten’s operatic masterpiece the town had been unable to stage it until now because the sheer scale of Britten’s opera had meant that there was nowhere large enough to perform it.

He said that an outdoor production with the Moot Hall only yards away put the focus squarely on the Suffolk town. Speaking after the dress rehearsal attended by Aldeburgh residents he said: “It was the most wonderful evening. It received a standing ovation.


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“The town has been full of the sound of the opera for the last three weeks as rehearsals have been underway and the local people have been fantastically patient with us. There has been a real sense of excitement in the town and I hope it has made Aldeburgh feel really good about the Britten legacy.”

Mr Reekie said that if the international cast found daunting it to perform on the beach, the experience was useful as it brought them closer to the heart of Peter Grimes. With the sound of surf on shingle and the cries of gulls mixing with the music, it was easier to slip into the mindset of Britten’s brooding anti-hero.

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The cast is the same one that performed, to great acclaim, the concert version of the opera at the Snape Maltings last week.

Although the performances were sung live, the Britten-Pears Orchestra was recorded at the Snape concerts and the music was broadcast on Aldeburgh Beach.

Jonathan Reekie said that the project was audacious enough without wanting to have an orchestra battling the elements as well as the cast.

The three concerts are already sell-outs but the event is being filmed for broadcast in cinemas in the autumn.

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