classical music

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra: Peter Grimes

Part of Classical Season 2019/20

Fall under the spell of a landmark British opera in this acclaimed semi-staged production by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Edward Gardner conducts and Stuart Skelton takes the lead role.

A gripping human drama centering on a mysterious antihero, swept along by glittering waves of expressive music, Britten’s enduringly compelling work has often been named the greatest British opera of all time.

In a fishing village in East Anglia, the solitary, surly fisherman Peter Grimes is acquitted of the murder of his apprentice, but the gossiping villagers eye him askance. Then a second boy dies.

Premiered in June 1945, Britten’s opera was launched to mark the post-war reopening of Sadler’s Wells and the return of the arts in peacetime.

Powerful, accessible, and cinematic, its vivid, moving music like nothing heard before, it made Britten internationally famous, and captured the popular imagination.

At the bus stop outside Sadler’s Wells, Britten’s partner Peter Pears was tickled to hear bus conductors giving the production a shout-out: ‘Any more for Peter Grimes, the sadistic fisherman?’

This winter at Royal Festival Hall, Australian tenor Stuart Skelton returns to a role for which he has received widespread international praise.

The Sunday Times has called him ‘the Grimes de nos jours’ and The Guardian names his interpretation of the part ‘the best around today’.

His performances as Grimes with English National Opera, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award, were conducted by Edward Gardner during his ten-year tenure as ENO’s Music Director.

The Guardian commented, ‘it's Gardner who pulls all the threads together in conducting that is effortlessly vital, marvellously lyrical and searingly intense.’

Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic are joined by an all-star cast, including Erin Wall as schoolmistress Ellen Orford, described by The Financial Times as ‘a soprano of radiance, pristine beauty and tingling top notes’.

Roderick Williams, praised by The New York Times for his ‘rich, burnished baritone’, appears as Captain Balstrode and Susan Bickley – ‘resplendent’ (The Guardian) – as Auntie.

Three choruses take the stage for an opera known for its rousing massed vocals. The semi-staged production features Rostin Wexelsen’s strikingly suggestive minimalist design.

Presented in collaboration with Bergen National Opera. Originally presented in 2017, in collaboration with Bergen International Festival and Bergen National Opera.

‘a highlight of this year’s Edinburgh international festival’ *****
The Guardian
Gardner would be hard to beat as a conductor of this opera. *****
The Times
Skelton, singing with astonishing visceral intensity, is surely now the Grimes de nos jours. Not to be missed on stage.
The Sunday Times
Stuart Skelton has surely never been bettered as the hulking Grimes. He totally inhabits the role. His is a performance to treasure, as is the conducting of Edward Gardner, and the magnificent playing of his orchestra.
The Mail on Sunday


Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Edward Gardner conductor
Stuart Skelton tenor, Peter Grimes
Erin Wall soprano, Ellen Orford
Roderick Williams baritone, Captain Balstrode
Susan Bickley alto, Auntie
Catherine Wyn-Rogers mezzo-soprano, Mrs Sedley
Hanna Husáhr soprano, 1st Niece
Vibeke Kristensen soprano, 2nd Niece
Clive Bayley bass, Swallow
Marcus Farnsworth baritone, Ned Keene
Robert Murray tenor, Bob Boles
James Gilchrist tenor, Reverend Horace Adams
Barnaby Rea bass, Hobson
Bergen Philharmonic Choir
Edvard Grieg Kor
Royal Northern College of Music Chorus
Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm
Håkon Matti Skrede chorus master
Vera Rostin Wexelsen stage direction


Britten: Peter Grimes - opera in 3 acts

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Royal Festival Hall


£20 - £65
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)
£20, £28, £35, £50, £65


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Event information
* Please note change of artist from originally advertised

Please note performance includes two 20-minute intervals.