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Peter Grimes

on January 29, 2022
This is the page for the performance on January 29, 2022.
Music Benjamin Britten Text Montague Slater

Cast 29.01.2022

Conductor Simone Young
Production Christine Mielitz
Set and costume design Gottfried Pilz
Choreography Roland Giertz
Peter Grimes, ein Fischer Jonas Kaufmann
Ellen Orford, Witwe, Lehrerin Lise Davidsen
Balstrode, Kapitän eines Handelsschiffes im Ruhestand Bryn Terfel
Auntie Noa Beinart
1. Nichte Ileana Tonca
2. Nichte Aurora Marthens
Bob Boles Thomas Ebenstein
Swallow Wolfgang Bankl
Mrs. Sedley Stephanie Houtzeel
Reverend Horace Adams Carlos Osuna
Ned Keene Martin Häßler
Hobson Erik Van Heyningen


online programme booklet (mainly in German) 

Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes tells the story of an outsider who comes under the wheels of the society that surrounds him. The starting point for this work was a verse narrative by George Crabbe describing life in a small fishing village. Britten, who came from Aldeburgh, found his own home in Crabbe's text and decided to set the Peter Grimes story to music in the early 1940s. The title role was sung by the tenor Peter Pears, with whom Britten had a personal and artistic relationship.

The opera was premiered in London in 1945. However, it took more than half a century for the first performance at the Vienna State Opera; it was not until 1996 that the work was staged by Christine Mielitz. She tells the story straightforwardly and clearly and shows the tormented soul of the title character in a cold atmosphere.


In a small fishing village on the east coast of England.


A judicial enquiry, presided over by Mayor Swallow, looks into the death at sea of a boy who was an assistant to Peter Grimes, a fisherman. Swallow finds that Peter Grimes is not to blame for the death. His ruling that Grimes may only hire trained fishermen in future means ruin for him. He cannot afford expensive labour. Peter rebels against the verdict and the gossip in the village. Only the teacher Ellen Orford stands by him.


The village at work. Swallow watches over compliance with his decisions. Grimes needs help to pull his boat ashore, but everyone refuses. Merchant Captain Balstrode and apothecary Keene override Swallow and rush to help.

Keene has again procured a jack for Grimes at the poorhouse. Carter Hobson does not want to fetch him. Only when Ellen agrees to look after the child on the way does Hobson make his wagon available.

A storm threatens to break.

While the people of the village scramble for safety, Balstrode urges Peter to leave the village or marry Ellen. But Peter does not want to be taken out of pity, but only when he has "fished" for enough money and thus bought himself prestige and respect.

The whole village seeks shelter from the storm in Auntie's pub. Even Peter appears. A quarrel breaks out between him and the fanatical Methodist Bob Boles. When Ned Keene sings a canon, the mood eases. Ellen arrives with the new boy.


While the villagers are in church, Ellen talks to the new boy. She fears that Grimes will treat him roughly. A bruise on his neck seems to confirm her suspicions. She confronts Grimes and asks him to change his life. Peter's brutal answer destroys their relationship. The village decides to hold Grimes accountable.

Grimes hopes to make the big catch this time. As he prepares to leave, he pushes the boy into great haste. The latter crashes.

The men find no one.


The village celebrates.

Balstrode and Ellen have found the Jack's jumper and are looking for Grimes. The opium-addicted widow Mrs Sedley has overheard their conversation and mobilises the village. For the second time they set out - but now armed - to find Grimes.

Ellen and Balstrode discover the half-mad Grimes with the dead child. Against Ellen's resistance, Balstrode advises him to sink his boat.