Tim Albery's production at the Coliseum (1991) enraged those who missed the naturalistic detail of more "traditional" productions where the Borough's fisherfolk tend to do an awful lot of fishing-net-and-sou' wester acting. Instead, he and designer Hildegard Bechtler produced a Rothko-like vision against which the vengeful chorus were welded into a terrifying group, etched out by Jean Kalman's scalding light.
In early performances of the Moshinsky production, the almost instantaneous disappearance of the chorus barely a moment after shrieking for Grimes's blood in the witch-hunt of Act Three took your breath away. More recent revivals have left this moment poorly rehearsed, the lights coming back up to reveal cast members trooping off stage. With rumours of a hot new Grimes in the form of Canadian Ben Heppner, let's hope the powers that be have set aside more time for the all-important chorus scenes. Next to Grimes, they are, after all, the most important characters.
`Peter Grimes' is at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden WC2, 8, 11, 19, 22 Apr (0171-304 4000)Reuse content