CULTURE

Greek premiere of ‘Peter Grimes’

«Peter Grimes is a man who is crushed by society. His only shelter against society’s censure (we do not go into whether it is just or not) is madness or death,» explained Greek bass Angelo Simos (aka Vangelis Hadzisimos) at a press conference earlier this week. The opera singer holds the title role in Benjamin Britten’s opera, which is due to open at the Olympia Theater on Sunday in a co-production by the Greek National Opera (GNO) and the Giuseppe Verdi Theater of Trieste. «This is one of the most significant operas of the 20th century and now it comes to join the list of the Greek National Opera’s premieres,» noted GNO Artistic Director Loukas Karytinos. «It is an exceptionally difficult production for everyone, especially the ensembles and choir,» he added. «Peter Grimes» is the first opera Britten ever wrote and it was such a rapid success that the composer was singled out as the most important British composer of the 20th century. The story is set in a small fishing village in East Anglia and focuses of the dark character of Peter Grimes and his relationships with his fellow villagers. The moody fisherman, a distant and enigmatic character, is accused by the community around him – not that it is clear of sin itself – of abusing and murdering two apprentices. Guilty or simply overburdened by the rumors and finger-pointing, Grimes goes on to do what he has been advised to do by some; he kills himself. A victim of narrow-mindedness, of a society that cannot acknowledge human weakness and mental instability, the character of Peter Grimes was for Britten an opportunity to pave the way for a sort of «ethical» opera and to draw attention to the fate of society’s outsiders, the victims of social violence and prejudice. «The production is traditional,» explained director Catherine Olson, who reviewed the director’s notes of Paul Carran for the Giuseppe Verdi Opera of Trieste. «What makes this opera so popular is that it uses material from our times. This fishing village could be anywhere,» she added. The sets and costumes for the production have been designed by Sergio d’Ormo, the GNO choir is conducted by Fani Palamidi and the lighting is by Claudio Schmid. The role of Ellen Orford is performed by Althea Papoulia, Captain Balstrode is played by Yiannis Yiannitsis and the aunt is Inez Zikou. Further performances are set for April 20, 22 and 24, while on Saturday, dance critic Andreas Rikakis will discuss the opera in a lecture at the Olympia Theater foyer at 11 a.m. (Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias, tel 210.364.3700.)