Opera Posts Travel

Grimes on the Beach

This is a fantastic opportunity for me to be able to communicate my many thanks to the Aldeburgh Festival and the Britten Pears Orchestra for selecting me to perform with them. This ambitious project brought two live performances of Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes” to the iconic Snape Maltings, and a semi-live staged version to the iconic beachfront where much of it is fictionally set. It all took place between May 23rd to June 10th, 2013. The cast included Alan Oke and Giselle Allen in the leading roles, the Opera North chorus and the Britten Pears Orchestra. I will initially outline Benjamin Britten and his opera Peter Grimes, describe my ancestral links to George Crabbe, explain what participating in this program was like and what coloured my stay in Aldeburgh (pronounced: auld-burra), ultimately unveiling a poignant turn of events.

Britten and Pears, Crabbe and Grimes

Just to keep factual information succinct, I will mention only important details. Benjamin Britten was an English composer who lived from 1913 to 1976. Being 2013 this year of the program, it marks Benjamin Britten’s centenary of his birth and makes this a particularly honorable tribute to his life. In his youth, Britten studied composition with English composer and violist Frank Bridge. In 1937, he lost his mother, and met his future partner and muse, the tenor Peter Pears. In 1942, whilst living with Pears in California, Britten stumbled upon an article in a magazine about an 18th-century poet, George Crabbe. Britten picked up a copy of Crabbe’s poem “The Borough” which contained the tragic story of a fisherman in Aldeburgh.  Instantly recognizing his nostalgia for Suffolk, he knew full and well that he belonged back in Suffolk, and that he must write an opera based on this story.