The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Previews 'Peter Grimes' at Powell Before Carnegie Hall Performance

By Ashley Ray
In Culture

Thanks to its suspenseful plot, haunting themes and musical brilliance, Benjamin Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes” has become a staple of 20th century repertoire. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra celebrates this operatic masterpiece and the composer’s 100th birthday with a preview performance this Saturday, Nov. 16, at beautiful Powell Hall in Grand Center. After this preview, the symphony will then perform the piece at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Music director David Robertson will conduct both performances.

Anthony Dean Griffey and Susanna Phillips at the Aspen Music Festival and School.  Photo credit, Alex Irvin

Anthony Dean Griffey and Susanna Phillips at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Photo credit, Alex Irvin

The opera is set in a fictional fishing village in England. After the suspicious death of Peter Grimes’ apprentice, the title character’s motives and morality are called into question by the community. Grimes pleads his innocence and is exonerated, but a a stigma remains. The opera continues with Grimes attempting to prove his good intentions to both the community and himself, all the while wrestling with demons from his past that eventually drive him mad. This all makes for fantastic opera, especially when paired with Britten’s flawless score.

Music director David Robertson comments on the opera and its themes as he states, “Britten’s “Peter Grimes” is an amazing masterpiece, and truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event for St. Louis . . . The story of the opera centers on a community. Although Britten exposes the darker aspects of that term, this particular presentation of the opera rallies on the St. Louis Symphony community—the orchestra, the chorus, and the staff and board—to make this ambitious undertaking possible.”

The performance will have light staging and lighting to capture the essence of the work. Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, known as the lead interpreter of the role today, will play Peter Grimes alongside soprano Susanna Phillips as Ellen Orford. The St. Louis Symphony chorus will also be performing.

For tickets to this event, visit the SLSO’s box office. Can’t make it to the show?  St. Louis Public Radio 90-7—KWMU will be broadcasting it live, and will also be streaming it live from their website.

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