In Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, the residents of a small coastal town whose rough life is shaped by the sea, confront, sentence, slander, and humiliate a violent fisherman who clumsily wishes to integrate into a community that despises him.
Is Peter Grimes the murderer of a child? This is the central question throughout the drama that elicits a slew of other questions to which Britten does not reply, despite the fact that his music is often filled with moving compassion for all emarginated and lonely human beings.
In this production, set designer Michael Levine and director Deborah Warner present a very raw and realistic portrayal of the drama, set in a poor town on the Suffolk coast and stigmatized in a world that produces its own monsters.
The horizon line, the sea’s fury, and the pebble beach that inspired Crabbe’s poetry and Britten’s opera are still there. However, the suffering and helplessness of the people today are central to the staging, which highlights Warner’s careful work, which consistently examines the psychological depth of the characters.
This Teatro Real production, which premiered in Madrid on April 19, is a production with the Opéra National de Paris, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and London Royal Opera House.