“The best Peter Grimes I’ve ever seen”

“‘Peter Grimes!’ Ranked high above us in the Usher Hall — a mob smelling blood, hot for the kill — the chorus let forth those three primal cries, and we were all lost”, writes Alexandra Coghlan at the beginning of her review of last weekend’s unforgettable performance of Peter Grimes at the Edinburgh International Festival.

From “enthrallingly intense” playing from the Bergen Philharmonic (★★★★★ The Times), to the “finest ensemble imaginable” (The Spectator) and the choruses’ “visceral, antagonistic interaction with the cast” (★★★★★ The Scotsman), this concert performance of Britten’s opera stunned critics, receiving multiple five-star reviews. It was originally presented by the Bergen International Festival, Bergen National Opera and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in the Grieghallen, Bergen on 30 May 2017.

This was the second of two concerts from Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Edinburgh, whose performance the night before also received praise from critics across the board: “the combination was illuminating” (★★★★ The Times).

Bravo to all involved!

“Perhaps it was written in the stars that this Edinburgh International Festival performance should be shattering and chilling to the core: a complete success, in other words.”
★★★★★ Rebecca Franks, The Times

“The playing here was enthrallingly intense – the salt sea spray lashed and stung through the interludes – with Gardner holding nothing back from a score that is as savagely elemental as it is fiercely humane.”
★★★★★ Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph 

“Conductor Edward Gardner took full advantage of its specific nature, enhanced by the “stage concept” of Vera Rostin Wexelsen, to segue at pace into and from the Sea Interludes, and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra gave us possibly the finest Storm I have ever heard.”
★★★★★ Keith Bruce, Herald Scotland 

“The Borough’s other residents — James Gilchrist’s preening, fluting vicar, Robert Murray’s highly strung Boles, Susan Bickley’s no-nonsense Auntie and Catherine Wyn-Rogers’s self-righteous busybody of a Mrs Sedley — were the finest ensemble imaginable.”
Alexandra Coughlan, The Spectator 

“Brass seemed to snarl and glint in a manner rarely heard when the orchestra is in a theatre pit. There was nothing about this performance that failed to provoke pity or terror or both.”
★★★★★ Fiona Maddocks, The Observer 

“The chorus is key, in this case a gloriously haranguing combination of Bergen’s Philharmonic Choir, Edvard Grieg Kor, Collegiûm Mûsicûm and students from Manchester’s RNCM, whose opinion, warped as it is, counts. Their visceral, antagonistic interaction with the cast and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, all under Edward Gardner’s direction, was a chilling reminder of tribal justice.”
★★★★★ Ken Walton, The Scotsman 

Sunday 13 August 2017, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Peter Grimes: Stuart Skelton
Ellen Orford: Erin Wall
Captain Balstrode: Christopher Purves
Auntie: Susan Bickley
Niece 1: Hanna Husáhr
Niece 2: Vibeke Kristensen
Mrs Sedley: Catherine Wyn-Rogers
Swallow: Andrew Greenan
Ned Keene: Marcus Farnsworth
Bob Boles: Robert Murray
Rev Horace Adams: James Gilchrist
Hobson: Barnaby Rea

Stage concept: Vera Rostin Wexelsen

Conductor: Edward Gardner
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus

Edvard Grieg Kor
Collegiûm Mûsicum
Students from the Royal Northern College of Music

Main photo by Beth Chalmers

Share Article