Britten’s Peter Grimes (opera) at QEH

6:30 pm, Sun 5 February 2023

Queen Elizabeth Hall

We return to Queen Elizabeth Hall with Kensington Symphony Orchestra for a concert performance of Britten’s Peter Grimes.

With John Hudson (Peter Grimes), the soprano Mari Wyn Williams (Ellen Orford) and the baritones Nicholas Morris (Ned Keene) and Nicholas Folwell (Captain Balstrode).

Britten’s opera was conceived in the US, where the composer was living in the early years of the Second World War, and was completed on his return to the UK in 1943. Described by the Manchester Guardian on its première as “a kind of white-hot poetry”, it depicts ”a subject very close to my heart: the struggle of the individual against the masses”, Britten said.

Montagu Slater’s libretto for the work was based on George Crabbe’s poem The Borough (1810); the fisherman Peter Grimes lives and works in a fictional town similar to Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where Crabbe and later Britten lived. Grimes, wrongly accused by townsfolk of murdering his apprentice, appoints another with the help of Ellen Orford, the schoolmistress he wishes to marry – but when another accident happens, a mob is roused to fury and the tale reaches a tragic end.

The première, in June 1945 – with Britten’s partner, Peter Pears, in the title role – marked the postwar reopening of Sadler’s Wells, and the opera matched the takings for a simultaneous production of Puccini’s La bohème. A young Leonard Bernstein, conducting the US première, was praised for bringing out the “drive and dissonance of a work that is far from ‘tuneful’ in the conventional sense”.

For further information please see KSO’s website:


Peter Grimes

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Getting there

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX, UK

Nearest station: Waterloo