Peter Grimes

A gripping story of man-vs.-society

For tenors concerned with more than high C’s, one of the great operatic challenges is the title role of Benjamin Britten’s 1945 Peter Grimes, his story of an outcast fisherman’s clash with the people of a small Cornish village. The libretto’s psychology is as subtle as the composer’s music—this isn’t an easy victim/villain tale. Absolved of guilt for the accidental death of an apprentice, Grimes treats a new apprentice no less harshly, and tragedy repeats itself. I was lucky enough to hear the Met’s March 3 performance of Grimes in person (row H, just right of center—yeah, baby), and I’m definitely going back for this weekend’s broadcast, part of the company’s program to beam its performances live into movie theaters around the world via satellite. Anthony Dean Griffey, chilling yet sympathetic, powerfully captures Grimes’ ambiguity, and Patricia Racette is achingly moving as Ellen Orford, the schoolteacher who tries and fails to save him. As for Britten’s score, it’s evocative, imaginative, and ravishing beyond description, and the way he sets the poetic text and brings the story to life makes just about every opera written since sound ham-handed and every opera composer seem clueless. AMC Pacific Place 11, 600 Pine St., www.metopera.org. $15-$22. 10:30 a.m. Sat., March 15, noon Sun., March 16. Also aired Saturday morning as usual on KING-FM, 98.1. GAVIN BORCHERT

Saturdays. Starts: Dec. 8. Continues through May 3, 2007

 
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