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Britten;Benjamin Peter Grimes

Peter Pears , Heather Harper , Joan Cross , Benjamin Britten    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the oppressive sea July 31 2008
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
How very lucky we are to have the release of the TV movie version dated 1969 of Britten's Peter Grimes. All the more so because we have the composer Benjamin Britten conducting and his partner Peter Pears who created the title role of Peter in what is certainly one of the greatest operas of the twentieth century. Pears projection of the character is superb; a troubled, confused yet resolute individual trying to fit in the village. The excellent Heather Harper as Ellen tries to reach Peter but can't. Ann Robson is commendable as the opium-dazed Mrs. Sedley the village gossip who with the drunk, failed Methodist minister Bob Boles turns the village against Grimes. All the singer/actors are very well cast. Because of the constraints of time and space, the opera had to be filmed in very small quarters on an adaptable, rotational ramp set cleverly conceived by David Myerscough-Jones. So well done that it belies the crampted space and one doesn't miss the opera house. The marvelous sea interludes were played against a series of absract images projected on gauze. The whole effect is of a misty, oppressive, constantly changing sea and the fragility of the lives that try to tame it. This is a beautiful work, beautifully done.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful presentation July 18 2008
By S. Hansen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I just got the DVD and was blown away by it. I saw this performance on TV (black & while, rabbit ears, lots of snow) back around 1970 and had fond memories of it. I'm not sure how much restoration the recording required but the video is very good and the mono audio is fine. Peter Pears, of course, is incomparable and the rest of the cast is superb as are the staging and overall performance.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a riveting performance of a modern masterpiece Aug. 13 2008
By Col William Russell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is the only opera written after Puccini's TURANDOT that I consider to be an opera, let alone a masterpiece. If you enjoy GRIMES, my recommendation is to get this superb telecast plus the one with Vickers. Two very different interpretations that cannot be equalled today in any opera house. Britten wrote GRIMES for Pears so we have that link here as well as Britten's marvelous conducting. Vickers' Grimes is more tragic while Pears is pathetic but both deserve to be seen as two sides of one coin. Picture quality, sound, and supporting cast are top-rate.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars close to definitive July 31 2008
By A. Levina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In my opinion, this film is as close to the definitive staging of Britten's masterpiece as one can hope to get. If only Peter Pears was 25 years younger! When the opera was premiered in 1945, he was 35, and Joan Cross, who played Ellen Orford, was 45. I think that this is the ideal age for Grimes and Ellen. For a casual viewer, it would be hard to make sense from the story of the opera, when the title character is obviously older than anyone else in the village (as in this film). Nevertheless, we have to be very grateful for the opportunity to see Pears in the role of Grimes. As to the question of whether he was too urbane and sophisticated for this character... Well, Jon Vickers has made Grimes more conventionally operatic and "heroic", but Pears knew better what it is all about (being present at the conception of the opera). I particularly liked his very fine and revealing interpretation of the Passacaglia.

The advantages of this production are particularly clear compared with some recent stagings of the opera (e.g., one at the Met in 2007, which I found terrible). It also seems to me that the attempts to transfer the action to the 20th century (e.g., Opera North) are misplaced. What about buying apprentices from a workhouse? In fact, the universal meanings of this opera become more, rather than less, clear when it is put into its proper historical and geographical context.

There are some inevitable technical slips related to a life performance (e.g., the Nieces singing "together we are safe" are not in fact together). For a perfect musical rendering, one should go Britten's Decca recording of 1958. The current film provides a perfect complement to this recording and an incomparable historical document.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of TV, Superbly Restored Feb. 28 2009
By drkhimxz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
We can assume that this is as close as we will ever get to how Britten himself conceived the opera within the limits of casting and the attributes of the medium. In and of itself, as seen in the restored version, I never saw the original 1969 BBC production, this is a model for presentation utilizing some modern film technology with stage like scenic design.
Contrary to some reviewers, the question of Peter Pears age never entered my mind. In fact, it seemed perfectly appropriate for the period represented by the opera.
Whatever the undoubted merits of other productions on DVD available, this should be considered a must buy (particularly at the price) for any collection of modern opera. While not flawless, what is, it is classic.

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