Peter Grimes - A Story in Shades of Sea Gray
|Allan Clayton, photo @ Richard Termine|
There are times when the Met is half-empty and the audience is tepid and I understand why. I've been to my share of tired warhorse revivals where everyone onstage looks like they are waiting for direct deposit to clear. And then there's times when the half-empty houses are depressing, because what is happening onstage is absolutely worth seeing. Last night was one of those nights -- the revival of Britten's Peter Grimes (the Met's first revival since the 2008 inauguration of the John Doyle production) was gripping from curtain to curtain.
Allan Clayton was tremendous in the title role. He's a beefy, burly guy who looks the part of a blue collar fisherman. His Grimes' is obviously a troubled man -- his eyes are always darting around the stage, his body language both terrifying and terrified. But his voice is surprisingly dreamy and luminous, so when he sings "In Dreams I've Built" you truly believe this Grimes has a sensitive, poetic side. The tenor also has the requisite power for the third act mad scene.
There's ambiguity about how much of Grimes' abuse of his apprentices is deliberate, and how much is negligence. Clayton leans into this ambiguity. He is convincing when singing to Ellen Orford about building a better life, but when he hits both Ellen and his new apprentice John, we can totally believe that he is an abuser.
|Nicole Car and Allan Clayton, photo @ Richard Termine|
Adam Platchetka was not as gripping as Balstrode. What are Balstrode's motives? Who is he? Platchetka did not give us answers. His final directive to Grimes to drown himself at sea was said with no emotion. Maybe that was an artistic choice, but it also made the moment somewhat flat emotionally.
|Denyce Graves, photo @ Richard Termine|
The Borough townspeople (the Met chorus) were incredible. Donald Palumbo and conductor Nicholas Carter made them sound terrifying -- implacable, judgmental, merciless.
|John Doyle's unit set, photo @ Richard Termine|
But still, this opera should be seen. I've actually never met any opera lover who wasn't blown away by Peter Grimes -- the ambiguity of the title character is unlike any other opera in the canon. And Allan Clayton is excellent. There are six more performances and plenty of cheap seats are available. Go Sea It!
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