Britten: Peter Grimes

This page lists all recordings of Peter Grimes, by Benjamin Britten (1913-76) on CD, DVD, Blu-ray & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes

on Aldeburgh beach. Filmed at the Aldeburgh Festival, June 2013


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

Chorus of Opera North, Chorus of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama & Britten–Pears Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

Directed for the screen by Margaret Williams

Live production directed by Tim Albery

Filmed in June 2013 during three extraordinary performances that took place during the Aldeburgh Festival, Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh beach takes place in the heart of the town that inspired it and is the film interpretation of Britten’s Peter Grimes, the most successful opera of post-war Britain. Based on George Crabbe’s 1810 poem ‘The Borough’, Britten’s powerful and masterful evocation of the North Sea in all its moods has become inextricably linked with the Aldeburgh that was home to Crabbe in the late eighteenth century and Britten in the twentieth, and where both poem and opera were written.

Conceived and hosted by the Aldeburgh Festival, the performances of Peter Grimes were directed by Tim Albery who placed the audience on the beach watching the story of Peter Grimes unfold as dusk fades over the sea.

The cast and chorus, with Alan Oke in the eponymous role of Peter Grimes, Giselle Allan as Ellen Orford, and David Kempster as Captain Balstrode, sing live with amplification, while the Britten-Pears Orchestra under the baton of Britten expert Steuart Bedford is pre-recorded.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1

Picture Format: 16:9

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Running Time: 145 mins & 20 mins (Bonus)

Subtitles: GB (Original Language), DE, FR, ES, IT, JP

FSK: 0

“Oke's is the closest tenor I've heard to Peter Pears as Grimes - crystal-clear diction, a slightly nasal tone, but mesmeric in the 'Now the Great Bear' soliloquy...This is an excellent memento of a remarkable experience, but is also a production and a performance of the opera which will be widely appreciated by all.” International Record Review, February 2014

“In almost all respects the technical side of the operation is a near triumph. Having the singers perform live...to the accompaniment of a pre-recorded orchestra was a gamble but it has paid off with very decent sound...a unique and satisfying experience.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Opera

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Arthaus Musik - 102179

(DVD Video)

$35.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes

[Grimes on the Beach]


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

Chorus of Opera North, Chorus of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama & Britten–Pears Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

Britten’s powerful and masterful evocation of the North Sea in all its moods has become inextricably linked, to audiences all over the world, with the Aldeburgh that was home to Crabbe in the 18th century and Britten in the 20th. Steuart Bedford leads a vast and accomplished group of performers on this new recording, created shortly before the company performed the work on the beach at Aldeburgh as part of the festival, further celebrating Britten's centenary year, 2013.

“A fine memento of a thrilling performance” Sunday Times, 18th August 2013

“There is something of Britten himself in Peter Grimes… premiered nearly 70 years ago – but Britten’s finest works are more relevant than ever, and continue to prove the magic and power of opera” Evening Standard, 27th August 2013

“It mixes professional forces assembled by Opera North with a student chorus and orchestra, both of whom make youthfully fresh and committed contributions which the composer would doubtless have appreciated...a performance with more guts and energy than high polish.” The Telegraph, 29th August 2013 ****

“Alan Oke offers a poetic, masterful reading of the title role. Giselle Allen's anguished Ellen Orford and a characterful ensemble of Borough folk make the drama immediate and transparent. If this were my only Grimes recording, I would be happy.” The Observer, 18th August 2013

“All is taut, tense and claustrophobic, the rich Snape acoustic adding to the pleasure. The orchestra playing is incisive, occasionally brash but thrillingly alive, and the all-important chorus, drawn from Opera North and the Guildhall School, is among the greatest on disc.” The Arts Desk, 14th September 2013

“[Bedford] has the sea-swell of the work deep in his bones...[Oke's] is a strong, ballasted performance, less purely plangent than many, but deeply moving in its simple strength and keen imagination...There's much to relish throughout this hand-picked cast.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 *****

“This is an expertly paced performance, as one might expect with Steuart Bedford as conductor, building the tension incrementally...[Oke] is heard to best effect when Grimes is peering deep into his soul...Allen's urgent Ellen Orford is well in the picture, though she does not always sound ingratiating, and David Kempster is a stalwart Balstrode.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - November 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Opera Award Winner

Signum - SIGCD348

(CD - 2 discs)

$26.75

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Jon Vickers (Grimes), Heather Harper (Ellen), Jonathan Summers (Balstrode), Elizabeth Bainbridge (Auntie), Teresa Cahill (First Niece), Anne Pashley (Second Niece), John Dobson (Bob Boles), Forbes Robinson (Swallow), Patricia Payne (Mrs Sedley), John Lanigan (Horace Adams), Thomas Allen (Ned Keene), Richard Van Allan (Hobson)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Sir Colin Davis

Beautifully packaged, and at budget price.

Full track-lists and synopses in English, German and French.

“the cast is fine and the tension cumulative” BBC Music Magazine, July 2011 ***

“Sir Colin Davis takes a fundamentally darker, tougher view of Peter Grimes than the composer himself. Jon Vickers's powerful, heroic interpretation sheds keen new light on what arguably remains the greatest of Britten's operas...A genuine bargain.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

Decca Opera! - 4782669

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Grimes), Felicity Lott (Ellen Orford), Thomas Allen (Balstrode), Patricia Payne (Auntie), Sarah Walker (Mrs Sedley), Simon Keenlyside (Ned Keene), Stafford Dean (Swallow), David Wilson-Johnson (Hobson), Maria Bovino (First Niece), Gillian Webster (Second Niece)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Bernard Haitink

The mid-price collection presents some of the most important and admired recordings of the EMI Classics and Virgin Classics catalogue which make EMI 'The Home of Opera'. This performance of Peter Grimes was recorded in 1992 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

“A wonderfully sung Peter Grimes, with superb orchestral support” BBC Music Magazine, June 2010 ****

EMI - The Opera Series - 4569432

(CD - 2 discs)

$21.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Peter Pears (Peter Grimes), Claire Watson (Ellen Orford), James Pease (Balstrode), Jean Watson (Auntie), Raymond Nilsson (Bob Boles), Owen Brannigan (Swallow), Geraint Evans (Ned Keene), Lauris Elms (Mrs Sedley), David Kelly (Hobson), Marion Studholme (First Niece), Iris Kells (Second Niece), John Lanigan (Horace Adams)

Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten

Alto - ALC2008

(CD - 2 discs)

$12.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Anthony Dean Griffey (Peter Grimes), Patricia Racette (Ellen Orford), Anthony Michaels-Moore (Balstrode), Jill Grove (Auntie), Greg Fedderly (Bob Boles), John Del Carlo (Swallow), Felicity Palmer (Mrs Sedley), Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Ned Keene), Bernard Fitch (Horace Adams), Dean Peterson (Hobson), Leah Partridge (First Niece), Erin Morley (Second Niece)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Donald Runnicles

Anthony Dean Griffey and Patricia Racette excel in John Doyle’s new production of Britten’s most celebrated opera, Peter Grimes – filmed live at the Metropolitan Opera in Hi-Definition.

This new MET production by award-winning director John Doyle (2006 Tony Award® Best Direction of a Musical – Sweeney Todd) of Britten’s haunting seaside tale continues EMI Classics’ recent collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera : Live in High-Definition series.

Peter Grimes, Britten’s second opera, is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of postwar opera, and its premiere 63 years ago marked a turning point in the history of British Opera.

It is now considered a masterwork of 20th Century opera, and since its premiere, it became the first opera by an English composer to enter and remain in the international repertory.

The work is based on a poem by the turn-of-the-19th-century writer George Crabbe entitled The Borough, and is set in an isolated English fishing village in the 1830s.

Much of the emotional drive of the opera comes from the six ‘Sea Interludes’ – calm, storm, at dawn and by moonlight. These are among the most brilliantly evocative music that Britten ever wrote and which help to establish the constant, overpowering presence of the sea as the opera’s dominant force.

Anthony Dean Griffey, as Grimes, is ‘superb’ (San Francisco Chronicle). Patricia Racette, as Ellen Orford, the schoolmistress who tries and fails to rescue Grimes from his anger and self-pity is ‘near faultless’ (New York Sun).

Donald Runnicles, music director of the San Francisco Opera, “drew an inspired performance from the Met Orchestra, full of passion and commitment yet free of bombast. Without slackening the dramatic tension, he found ways of drawing out both the music's austere lyricism and its violent extremes.” – Boston Globe

Production: John Doyle, Set designer: Scott Pask, Costume designer: Ann Hould-Ward & Lighting designer: Peter Mumford

“…impressively cast, but in an overly stylised staging which reduces village life to milling dispiritedly beneath a vast black wall.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ****

“...a fine performance, powerfully conducted by Donald Runnicles. In the title role Anthony Dean Griffey matches that power...with a tenor which is confidently firm and precise, matching his fine acting as a lumbering figure...Felicity Palmer as Mrs Sedley is vividly characterful.” Penguin Guide, 2010 **/*

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EMI Metropolitan Opera DVD - 2174149

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$21.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Peter Pears (Grimes), Claire Watson (Ellen Orford), James Pease (Balstrode), Jean Watson (Auntie), Geraint Evans (Ned Keene), Lauris Elms (Mrs Sedley), David Kelly (Hobson), Owen Brannigan (Swallow), Raymond Nilsson (Bob Boles), Marion Studholme, Iris Kells (Nieces)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten

Recorded: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, December 1958

“Almost 50 years on, Britten's own recording is still fresh. His conducting has great naturalness and the sound is amazing for 1958.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2007

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Decca - Originals - 4757713

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Jon Vickers (Peter Grimes), Heather Harper (Ellen Orford), Norman Bailey (Balstrode), Elizabeth Bainbridge (Auntie), John Dobson (Bob Boles), Forbes Robinson (Swallow), Patricia Payne (Mrs Sedley), Phillip Gelling (Ned Keene), John Lanigan (Horace Adams), John Tomlinson (Hobson), Marilyn Hill Smith (First Niece), Anne Pashley (Second Niece)

The Royal Opera, Colin Davis, production by Elijah Moshinsky

“Colin Davis...proves an inspired interpreter, taut in control as well as warmly expressive, drawing vividly atmospheric playing from the orchestra to supplement the brilliantly effective sets, minimal but wonderfully evocative in their dark picture of the Borough.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***

DVD Video

Region: 2,3,4,5

Format: NTSC

Warner Classics Warner Vision - 0630169132

(DVD Video)

$25.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Peter Pears (Grimes), Claire Watson (Ellen Orford), James Pease (Balstrode), Jean Watson (Auntie), Geraint Evans (Ned Keene), Lauris Elms (Mrs Sedley), David Kelly (Hobson), Owen Brannigan (Swallow), Raymond Nilsson (Bob Boles), Marion Studholme, Iris Kells (Nieces)

Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten

Pear's heart-rending portrayal of Grimes central to a magnificent cast - James Jolly, Gramophone 1000th issue

“...a studio has rarely witnessed anything so poignant as [Pears's] singing of the mad scene in the last Act. It is almost unbearably moving...The Covent Garden Orchestra rise superbly to their task and indeed one is left with an impression of the entire cast, of everybody concerned, being inspired by the presence and direction of the composer.” Gramophone Magazine, October 1959

“The Decca set, which in 1958 introduced this opera to many listeners, has never been superseded in its refinement or insight. Britten's conducting, lithe and lucid, reveals his work as a complex, ambiguous drama. Peter Pears, in the title-role written for him, brings unsurpassed detail of nuance to Grimes's words while never losing sight of the essential plainness of the man's speech. The rest of the cast form a vivid portrait gallery of characters.
The recording is as live and clear as if it had been made yesterday, and takes the listener right onto the stage. The bustle of activity and sound effects realise nicely Britten's own masterly painting of dramatic foreground and background.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“one of the greatest achievements of the early analogue stereo era. Few opera recordings can claim to be so definitive” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ****

“This was the first complete recording of a full-scale Britten opera, based on a superb stage production and vividly recorded...More than any other opera recording, this helped launch the fortunes of Britten's operas and remains one of the most exemplary ever made.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2012

“The legendary first recording of one of the greatest operas of all time, first released in 1958 and conducted by Britten himself, with Peter Pears unforgettable as Grimes. The magnificent supporting cast includes many fine British singers, and is headed by Claire Watson's warmly maternal Ellen Orford and James Pease's sympathetic Balstrode.” Maurice Millward, Presto Classical, March 2014

GGramophone Magazine

100 Greatest Recordings

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Decca Legends - 4676822

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes


Peter Pears (Peter Grimes), Claire Watson (Ellen Orford), James Pease (Balstrode), Jean Watson (Auntie), Raymond Nilsson (Bob Boles), Owen Brannigan (Swallow), Geraint Evans (Ned Keene), Lauris Elms (Mrs Sedley), David Kelly (Hobson), Marion Studholme (First Niece), Iris Kells (Second Niece), John Lanigan (Horace Adams)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Decca 20C - 4787429

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

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