Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, live on the Aldeburgh beach

 

Call it crazy, call it genius, but undaunted by the British weather, the Aldeburgh Festival is mounting one of its most ambitious projects ever: Benjamin Britten’s operatic masterpiece Peter Grimes, live on the Aldeburgh beach. The shore faces eastwards to the North Sea, the winds can bite and storms often re-sculpt the pebbly surface. It is sold out nonetheless. Staging this opera here is certainly appropriate: the action takes place in this small Suffolk fishing community and Britten’s music is filled with powerful evocations of its sea and sky.

The orchestra must  be pre-recorded at the Snape Maltings hall, where concert performances take place earlier in the festival. The cast, led by the tenor Alan Oke as the tortured anti-hero, have to accustom themselves to amplification. It is to be filmed and if it rains, it rains. For its director, Tim Albery, the risk is part of the thrill. “To say ‘What’s the point?’ would be like asking what the point is of climbing Everest.”

‘Grimes on the Beach’, Aldeburgh Beach, Suffolk, (www.aldeburghfestival.co.uk), 17, 19 and 21 June

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