Opera in Tokyo: Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes

Murder, rage, betrayal and love, all in a singing form: The NNTT Opera’s third season under Artistic Director Otaka Tadaaki will open with Peter Grimes, an adaptation of George Crabbe’s poem The Borough sung in English with Japanese subtitles.

2013 marks the centenary of the birth of Brit, Benjamin Britten, who is counted among the greatest opera composers of the 20th century. Of the many operas he composed, his second, Peter Grimes, is often regarded as his finest; it is also one that the Japanese people can easily relate to. The opera is set in a fishing village, and depicts the protagonists living in an insular community and the cruelty of their fates, much like Britten suffered from living in a committed relationship with his partner at the time.

This will be the first British Opera performed at the NNTT. Singing the title role will be Stuart Skelton, a Heldentenor who has performed in theatres around the world. English soprano Susan Gritton will sing the role of Ellen, the only character who understands Peter.  A fine cast of international and Japanese singers will round out the ensemble.

Another element that is sure to impress is Willy Decker’s production design, as the stage settings, costumes and props for Peter Grimes will be rented from the Théatre Royal de la Monnaie in Belgium. Otaka Tadaaki has said he feels that, of the many productions of Peter Grimes, this one in particular (which premiered in 1994) best conveys the complexities of the work.

Since opening in London in 1945, Peter Grimes is still widely performed, both in the UK and internationally, and is considered part of the standard repertoire. Don’t miss the chance to attend a world-class event, and treat yourself (and perhaps a friend, family member or partner) to a night at the opera, for a sophisticated alternative to the usual date night regimen.

Peter Grimes

New National Theatre, Tokyo website

When: Oct. 2/5/8/11/14, see detailed schedule here.

Where: New National Theatre Tokyo (see map)

How much: ¥5,250~¥26,250 (details and purchase here)

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