Monday, 26 November 2007

peter grimes at staatsoper hannover

yesterday, i went on an excursion with around 40 other students from my university to the opera in hannover to see benjamin britten's "peter grimes" in an inscenation of Barrie Kosky. i didn't really know what to expect, even though i had read the wikipedia-article about it earlier in the day. i cannot really say that it will become my favourite opera of all times, but it made some impression, and it gave me a lot to think about.

the piece is, in short, about the fisherman peter grimes and his relationship to the villagers/townspeople of "the burrough", who despise him and make fun of him. the tenor who had his role seemed to be perfect to impersonate this man, he was both ugly and frightening, but still to be pitied in his lonelyness. peter grimes is a man with dreams about a better future for both himself and a teacher, ellen, whom he wants to marry as soon as he has made enough money so they can live well together and without being the subject of people's gossip. all the same, he is a brutal man, beating up his apprentice, never giving him a minute of rest from work and finally causing his death by sending him down the slippery cliff to get the boat ready for fishing.
earlier, he had already caused the death of an other apprentice of his, which was decided by the court to be accidental, but none of the villagers believe this and call him a murder. during the play, they form a mob to lynch him i the end, which doesn't happen because he sails out on the sea to sink himself with his ship (one of his two only friends advised him to do).

at some point during the story he is asked, why he won't move to another place, where people don't know him and won't gossip, to start a new life. his answer is, that he is rooted where he is and therefore cannot go. another answer implied by his actions is, that he hasn't given up on his dream to be able to change the villagers picture of him, a dream which is as impossible as to escape the gossip, which probably would follow him wherever he went (if he moved someplace else). it's a situation in which he can only lose.

both the stage-setting and the lighting, but also the singers' make-up reminded me a lot of roy andersson's movies "songs from the second floor" and "you, the living". the opera also contained some of those movies' hope- and helplessness. it was said that there were more than 500 wooden boxes on the stage, all in all, as background and part of the different locations. those boxes almost had a life of their own, haunting peter grimes together with the villagers, and in the same time being his home.

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