In Britain, we get plenty of Britten and to a high standard. Productions can't get away with being merely good, they have to be excellent. From all I've heard so far about the new Peter Grimes at ENO, it's superb. Alden places the action in the 1940's, no pretence that this is the 19th century, as is often the case. This is Britten, who knew things about prejudice the original poet George Crabbe either didn't know or couldn't express. There isn't a word for British McCarthyism, but the mentality did exist, and in many forms. HERE is Edward Seckerson in the Independent, in his usual perceptive , trenchant mode, pulling no punches :
".....Even Gerald Finley's Captain Balstrode has one arm – bitten off by a shark, perhaps, or one of the locals.....But the really scary thing about Alden's production is the way in which these assorted grotesques morph into a single entity – a brutal force moved about the stage like a shoal of carnivorous fish. The climactic manhunt is the alcohol-fuelled by-product of a party in which Alden lays on a hellish vision of middle-England. The Union Jacks come out, and so does the hatred of a united national front. And the ENO Chorus – sensational throughout – are now simply overwhelming."
Grimes and Billy Budd, soulmates ? I can't wait til Saturday. Since wroiting this I've been and seen. Look at what I've written about Alden's staging in the posts marked Peter Grimes ENO parts 1 and 2.LOTS on Britten on this blog. Scroll up or look at the labels on the right or look HERE