Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PETER GRIMES even more

Tonight's (Wednesday) Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes was running hot, on fire, going OFF.

Act 1 ended with a roar from the house and the sort of genuine emotional applause that can only be stopped by the house lights. People were crying. Lots of them.

Stuart Skelton was no bewildered innocent tonight. In magnificent control of his voice and the stage, he was big and masculine and proud and "I don't like interferers". The strength of his first Act set up an even more harrowing descent into tender madness.

Even more detail:

Balstrode stayed at the end of the court scene, just a few moments, the mob dispersing, lingering close behind Ellen, she unaware, and with just one look toward her we were invited into another level of complexity by Neil Armfield. That Ellen and Balstrode would later come as 'we', to take him Home, emerged in a different light. The ambiguity now includes questions about the relationship between Ellen and Balstrode - did they have a common purpose and agree just where home was; who decided what, and when.

I hadn't noticed Stuart Skelton's face as the storm approached, the crowd baying fear and begging salvation, while he beamed with excitement, anticipation, relish.

The pit is blacked out for the mad scene. The use of the spoken word by Balstrode is even more apparent as an extension of Peter's unaccompanied monologue. Without orchestration we had been taken onto another level altogether, that of Peter's madness and psychotic imaging. (I don't hear the voices of the crowd as the continuance of the hunt, but as the echos of persecution in his head.) Balstrode breaks into Peter's crazed reverie, into that altered space, and the spoken word delivers a jarring earth-bound impact, on us if not Peter, whose delivery to his death is as natural to him as it is unnatural to us.

Susan Gritton was even more radiant.

Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke's boy was even more heartbreaking.

Everyone was even more.

The orchestra was even more even more.

Mark Wigglesworth should be the new music director. Create the position. Even more so under the circumstances.

There was no foot stamping - you can't stamp your feet when you're standing. There was a standing ovation of clapping whooping red eyes.

Stuart Skelton hugged Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke.

I am even more fixated on Britten.

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