Each year Opéra de Lyon stage an opera festival and this year it was Britten. I saw Peter Grimes and Curlew River.

Lyon is a great city and the opera house is amazing. Like a cross between Blade Runner and the inside of a space ship, it is all metal and all black. The seats have token padding and aren't very comfortable. But it works spectacularly well and all the emphasis is on the stage and not on any plush and luxurious decor. I thought the acoustics were excellent.

Peter Grimes (new production)

Alan Oke: Peter Grimes
Michaela Kaune: Ellen Orford
Andrew Foster-Williams: Balstrode
Kathleen Wilkinson: Auntie
Colin Judson: Boles
Karoly Szemeredy: Swallow
Jeff Martin: Reverend Adams
James Martin: Carter Hobson
Rosalind Plowright: Mrs Sedley
Benedict Nelson: Keene

Conductor: Kazushi Ono
Director: Yoshi Oida

Superb new production with Alan Oke (Grimes on the Beach) in the title role. The opera starts with Balstrode handing Grimes a sledge hammer as he sits in his boat.

I loved it and the audience loved it. Try and see it if it comes your way.

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Curlew River

This production first performed at the Edinburgh International Festival 2005

William Dazeley: The Ferryman
Michael Slattery: Tha Madwoman
Ivan Ludlow: The Traveller
Lukas Jakobski: The Abbot

Director: Olivier Py

Mahogany Opera's production of Curlew River last year was quite traditional and, as far as I knew from the libretto, faithful to Britten's intentions. I loved it.

I didn't know anything about Olivier Py's production before I saw it in Lyon. I hadn't watched any clips on YouTube or read any reviews from the time.

The small orchestra was positioned on a platform above the performance area.

It's a thought provoking and stunning production. The boy features quite a bit so for me he became a real person and not just part of a story told by The Madwoman and The Ferryman. His death is re-enacted in mime as the Ferryman tells the story. As the story unfolds, the dawning realisation on the face of The Madwoman is heart breaking.

Once again I'd recommend this production if it comes your way.