9th July 2017 - Peter Grimes

9th July 2017 6.00 pm Limekiln Farm, BN27 3TA

A showing of the film of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach from the 2013 Aldeburgh Festival (with permission) Supper (£15, booked in advance) and pay bar available during the two intervals. First interval 7-8pm, second interval 8.45-9.15pm, finish 10pm.

Donations are invited for the Villages Music Festival 2018, which supports community activities in the three villages of Ripe, Laughton and Chalvington.

Music by Benjamin Britten, libretto by Montagu Slater, derived from the poem 'The Borough' by George Crabbe


Peter Grimes Alan Oke
Ellen Orford Giselle Allen
Captain Bulstrode David Kempster
Auntie Gaynor Keeble
First Niece Alexandra Hutton
Second Niece Charmian Bedford
Bob Boles Robert Murray
Swallow Henry Waddington
Mrs Sedley Catherine Wyn-Rogers
Ned Keene Charles Rice
Rev Horace Adams Christopher Gillett
Hobson Stephen Richardson

Britten-Pears Orchestra

The Chorus of Opera North with the Chorus of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama


Directed for the screen by Margaret Williams
Live production directed by Tim Albery
Set and Costume design Leslie Travers
Lighting design Lucy Carter
Film produced by Anne Beresford and Debbie Gray
Executive Producers Jonathan Reekie, Julian Gleek, Edward A Crozier


I have attended the Aldeburgh Festival nearly every year for the past 40 years. It has always been a magical week; the view east from the Festival theatre at Snape over the marshes to Iken church with big skies, long summer twilights, the rustling sound of the wind in the rushes, the call of the seabirds, are indelibly etched in my mind. The visual picture is then linked in the mind with the music of Benjamin Britten, the musical intervals that he uses so often are the sounds of the place.

The music of Peter Grimes speaks of Aldeburgh Beach, the cold North Sea, the wind, the haar and the sound of waves on the shingle. So, it was with considerable anticipation the we bought tickets for a performance of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, in June 2013. We walked along the promenade to the site of the stage, wearing many layers of clothing, hat, gloves, carrying a hip flask. There was a raised stand facing the sea and the set, a 40metre long ‘storm destroyed’ promenade, with upturned boats and wreckage. Behind it the clouds swirled and the waves crashed relentlessly. A Spitfire flew overhead to mark the occasion.

The orchestral music, conducted by Steuart Bedford, was pre-recorded at Snape, the sound faultless. One looked for the players on the beach, nowhere to be seen, but the conductor was there, in a pit dug out of the pebbles, in front of the stage. At one moment he walked backwards along the beach conducting the chorus as they marched relentlessly away from the stage. The sea interludes have never sounded so evocative. The singers were miked so that one could hear every word, even with the wind, rain and the waves. Somehow they kept perfectly in time with the virtual orchestra. The village characters were real, their struggles, arguments and mistrust vividly depicted. The soloists gave amazing performances, I will never forget Alan Oke’s outbursts as Peter, standing on top of the upturned boat in Act II. It ends with the sea, and only the sea, the sound relentlessly continuing when Peter has disappeared.

The film, directed by Margaret Williams, captures the opera very well, with excellent sound and visual effects. The sea interludes are accompanied by time-lapse images of vivid skies, seascapes and changing weather states, shot by a Suffolk cameraman.

Do come and join us!


Joan Hester

(Director, Villages Music Festival)