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Jonas Kaufmann © Dietmar Scholz - Scholzshootspeople

Britten Peter Grimes

From 26 January TO 08 February 2022
Wiener Staatsoper - Wien
Program

Britten : Peter Grimes

Cast
  • Conductor
    Simone Young
  • Director
    Christine Mielitz
  • Performers
    Peter Grimes: Jonas Kaufmann
    Ellen Orford: Lise Davidsen
    Captain Balstrode: Bryn Terfel
  • Venue Info
  • Seating Plan
  • Synopsis

Wiener Staatsoper - Wien Location Opernring 2 - 1010 Wien Autriche

  • Venue's Capacity: 1709

The Vienna State Opéra is much more than just a local institution; it is a vital part of the city's identity and a national landmark.

As of the 17th century, the Hapsburgs lavishly patronized the opéra. Family members Ferdinand III and Leopold I composed for the théâtre, while Charles VI tried his hand at conducting the orchestra, and the Empress Maria-Theresa often mingled with the corps de ballet.

During the 19th century, the Karntnerthor-Theater was demolished and the présent building was constructed on the famous " Ring ". It was here that Mahler, with the help of the set designer Alfred RoUer, imposed a new style of performance, based on audacious stagings and a very précise interprétation ofthe score, which demanded countless rehearsals.

After the fall of the Hapsburgs, Richard Strauss took over the reins of the newly baptized Vienna State Opéra. Curiously enough, only one of Strauss'operas, THE WOMAH WITHOUT A SHADOW, was premiered in Vienna. Clemens Krauss and Karl Bôhm were to follow in his footsteps. Under Bôhm's direction, the Opera created its own Company, which was to serve as a model for several générations. Even the bombs that destroyed the opéra house in 1945 could not prevent singer s such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, Sena Jurinac or Erich Kunz from becoming legendary.

One musn't think that the Viennese applaud only their homegrown stars. In 1955, when Maria Callas came to sing LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR in the reconstructed building with Karajan conducting, the public blocked traffic to pay tribute to the diva... in the street! Karajan succeeàed Karl Bôhm, and invited many international stars to corne sing on the Viennese stage. Works were henceforth sung in their language of origin, and coproductions with La Scala permitted the disco-very of voices such as that of Mirella Freni in LA BOHEME.

Ioan Holender has suceeded in deftly combining these international distributions with an ensemble System. He has scheduled many works never heard on the Viennese stage, which are now included in the Opera's répertoire, such as Verdi's JERUSALEM and Enesco's OEDIPE, furthering a policy instated under Claudio Abbado's brilliant direction. Whatever changes may now occur, the Opera will continue to stage at least 300 performances per season (an absolute world record ren-dered feasible thanks to the în-house technical crew, which hires no less than 250 people), and the public will continue to applaud the finest orchestra any amateur could wish for in the pit : the Vienna Philharmonie !

Wiener Staatsoper

The seating plan is given as an indication and has no contractual value.
The division of categories may differ depending on shows and dates.

Synopsis

Peter Grimes

PETER GRIME, A TRAGIC OPERA EXPLORING HOMOPHOBIA.

HISTORY

This opera was composed by Benjamin Britten and was first performed at Sadler's Wells, London, in 1945 as the Second World War ended. The libretto was adapted by Montagu Slater from a poem in George Crabbe's book, The Borough. The opera is set in a fictional village called The Borough, which bears some resemblances to Aldeburgh on the East Coast of England where Britten lived. The opera remains popular both in the UK and abroad and tells the tragic story of the fisherman, Peter Grimes. As Britten and Slater worked on the opera the story of the fisherman developed into a more complex tale than in the original book. Whilst still being labelled a villain by those around him, the audience are asked to believe that he is also a victim of his society. The work has been referred to, also, as an attack on homophobia.

Prologue

Peter Grimes' apprentice has died and he is being questioned at the inquest. The townsfolk have already decided that he is guilty and push for his punishment. The coroner clears him of blame, however, he advises Grimes not to take on another apprentice. Grimes feels that this is his community's unwillingness to give him a second chance and he is comforted by the schoolmistress Ellen Orford, who he wishes to marry.

Act 1

The townsfolk, represented by the chorus, sing about their weary daily round of toil in the town and at sea. Grimes is unable to work successfully alone and another apprentice is found for him by his friend, apothecary Ned Keene. John, the new apprentice, lives in the workhouse and Ellen offers to go and fetch him. John is brought to the pub that evening but Grimes is unsettled by his presence and sets off alone to his hut, braving a terrible storm.

Act 2

On Sunday morning Ellen, whilst talking to John, is horrified to find a bruise on his neck. Grimes, when confronted, claims it happened by accident. Ellen persists and Grimes hits out at her and runs off with the apprentice. Several people see this and a mob sets off for his hut. Grimes sadly laments the loss of his first apprentice but when he hears the mob approaching he gets ready to set off for sea. Whilst climbing down the cliff to the fishing boat John falls, despite Grimes warning him to be careful, and he is killed. The mob disperse when they find the hut is empty.

Act 3

During a dance, the village busybody, Mrs. Sedley, tries to convince people that Grimes is a murderer. After many days at sea he returns alone. Meanwhile a retired skipper, Captain Balstrode, has discovered a jumper on the beach which Ellen recognises as one she has made for John. Aroused by Mrs.Sedley the mob once more set off in search of Grimes. Grimes, dangerously unstable for some time, has been pushed over the edge by the death of John and he doesn't take much persuading by Balstrude to take his boat out to sea and scupper it. He is never seen again. The opera ends the following day as villagers carry on as if nothing has happened.

MAIN ROLES

Peter Grimes: a fisherman, tenor.
Ellen Orford: widow and schoolmistress, soprano.
Balstrode: retired merchant skipper, baritone.
Mrs Sedley: a widow and busybody, mezzo-soprano.
Ned Keene: apothecary, baritone.
John: Grimes' apprentice, silent role.

Wiener Staatsoper © Michael Poehn

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