* Notes *
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Benjamin Britten's music, I did attend today's simulcast of Peter Grimes. Some of Britten's rhythms in this opera were of interest, particularly the sea shanty at the end of Act I. Unlike the protagonists of Billy Budd or The Turn of the Screw, the character of Peter Grimes is not completely inane. His status as an outsider is rather operatic, of course, and the ambiguity of his tale is intriguing. I was also quite curious about John Doyle's production since I had just heard his interview on the Los Angeles Opera podcast from last year. The production is striking, though Scott Pask's set was tiresome at times. The set is meant to be oppressive, and it certainly was, but it was also a bit like a stark Advent calendar.
Donald Runnicles seemed to have a good handle on the orchestra, and everything sounded very much together. I had no idea our maestro perspired so much, and this is one of the odd things about the simulcasts, they do sometimes show us more than we wish to see. The singing was all at a high level, with fine diction from everyone, I was able to get away with not reading the subtitles. Felicity Palmer was horribly funny as Mrs. Sedley. Patricia Racette's vibrato grated a bit on me, as usual, but she had some brilliant moments as well, and was convincing as the kind Ellen Orford. Anthony Dean Griffey was impressive in the titular role, both acting and singing were great.
* Tattling *
People clapped a great deal for Patricia Racette and Donald Runnicles as the opening credits ran, good thing they are decoupled from the overture. Natalie Dessay was a cute host for the simulcast, she did brief interviews of Racette and Griffey, Doyle and Pask, the costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, and Runnicles. The picture froze for several seconds during Act I when Peter was singing the words "The storm is here and I shall stay." The sound did go out for a second, but resumed more quickly than the picture.