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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Pears, Heather Harper, Bryan Drake, Elizabeth Bainbridge, Owen Brannigan
  • Directors: Joan Cross, Benjamin Britten
  • Format: AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Universal Music Canada
  • Release Date: Sept. 9 2008
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B0012L0TFM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,576 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4f19d38) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6dc693c) out of 5 stars the oppressive sea July 31 2008
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on
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
HASH(0xa6dc6b88) out of 5 stars A Perfect "Grimes" From the Met Dec 19 2008
By G P Padillo - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The first viewing of this, one of my favorite operas, worked me up as though I were experiencing it for the first time. I've seen Vickers, I've heard Pears, I've seen a number of video performance by others (including Chris Ventris who was superb) but Griffey offers the finest Grimes in my experience. The sweetness and clarity of tone he brings to the role adds a level that enhanced the character to a degree almost unimaginable. The detail of the acting of each role simply mind boggling and completely believable. Often one gets tremendous "acting" performances which can make me forgive some vocal shortcomings, but here each role was sung with such precision and beauty and music and text wedded sublimely.

I also enjoyed Dessay's introduction, especially just as the performance was ready to
begin as she warns us to settle in for "the sad, horrible story of Peter Grimes."

It's a different beast watching it on screen than in the house, (of course), and I wonder if this is one of those productions better served by seeing it on screen than on stage. As a "movie" the set was simply tremendous and a perfect vehicle to display all the many characters that inhabit the Borough. The screen captures an intimacy not quite possible if one was forced to stare at the set the entire time, our eyes relieved and training on specific details rather than having to pick them out from the "whole." Generally, I'm less
inclined to like this than live, but this one really, really worked.

Patricia Racette is simply stunning as Ellen. No singer today sings in English like this girl. Every word, even on some of those (few) high notes was understandable and filled with meaning. I loved what she talked about during her interview of being able to sing in her native tongue and be able to put across the subtexts which isn't always possible - or
at least as "natural" as when singing in a foreign language. Her face displayed every emotion as well as her voice, her body language strong and sure. This was not wilting violet (not that I'm accusing any of the many wonderful Ellen's I've seen were) but she brought a force of strength from the get go. Her standing up to the community at the beginning was powerful, powerful music theatre - just riveting. My friends who went with me have never seen her before and my buddy's wife commented "I couldn't take my eyes off of her . . . and that voice, oh my God!"

I kept hearing that Teddy Tahu Rhodes stole every scene he was in, and I was thrilled to see pretty much the case today. His Ned was terrific. I've liked this guy for a little while now and it's wicked fun seeing him make such a strong debut at the Met!

Jill Groves as Auntie was right up there as well. What a big, sexy gal she is and her mannerisms, voice, costume, everything was the perfect Auntie.

Mr. Michaels Moore has been bumpy for me throughout the number of times I've seen and heard him, but I always like him. Today was one of the best performances I've heard from this guy - tremendous.

I'm becoming, more and more, a huge fan of Mr. Del Carlo and it's fun to see him in a number of these Met outings. Those mutton chops today almost stole the show!

Runnicles. Wow. What an amazing way he has with this score, living and breathing it and getting from that amazing orchestra a superb, thrilling reading. Every nuance and detail was breathtaking - from the "hurly burly" wild moments to the most hushed and introspective sounding.

There are too many moments to single out when something comes through as perfectly as did this.

The chorus. Holy Smoke! They were astonishing in every single detail. This is one of those "chorus" operas and the Met should be justifiably proud of the work Mr. Palumbo has done.

I tried not to cry, and held up well during the big "Grimes" chorus, but Griffey's mad scene opened up the floodgates. To see him tears in his eyes mixing with his sweat rolling down his face, I pulled away for a millisecond and back to reality thinking "this guy really thinks he's Peter Grimes." Well, so did I!

The intermission feature includes a brief trip to Aldeborough who were receiving their first Met cinemeacast - when this HD presentation first aired. We go along the nearby beaches as well as the Britten/Pears house. It was powerfully moving to catch sight of their unadorned graves with their simple headstones in the graveyard.

This DVD jumps to the head of the list! Highly recommended.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6dc6b4c) out of 5 stars A powerful presentation July 18 2008
By S. Hansen - Published on
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
HASH(0xa6dc6e40) out of 5 stars a riveting performance of a modern masterpiece Aug. 13 2008
By Col William Russell (ret) - Published on
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.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3b73354) out of 5 stars close to definitive July 31 2008
By A. Levina - Published on
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.