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The Independent Culture
Those of you with long memories will recall that the designer Hildegard Bechtler won the coveted Golden Lifebelt Award, this column's prize for keeping afloat while everyone else on a production sinks without trace, drowning in ignominy. She won for her beautiful sets on the mistitled musical Always but I'm glad to report that nearly everything else she has worked on has had a much longer shelf-life.

Take the magnificent Peter Grimes, starring Robert Brubaker (above), at English National Opera. Tim Albery's production premiered in 1991 and it's back again, looking as good as ever. And "looking" is the correct expression. Bechtler realises Britten's gripping vision of a man at war with the people around him with a rare visual intensity, aided by Jean Kalman's scorching white light which sculpts and intensifies the dense, deep colours and stark textures of her design. This is opera as unmissable theatre.

London Coliseum, London WC2 (0171-632 8300) 25, 27, 30 Nov, 2 & 7 Dec

David Benedict