Peter Grimes (the opera) - and taking a portrait of Alan Oke for the FT

I was asked to take a portrait of tenor Alan Oke for the FT back in April. I especially loved it because I found that Alan was being interviewed for his upcoming role as Peter Grimes in Benjamin Britten's opera of the same name. It's one of my all time favourite operas - and the performance was to be at a special place - The Maltings at Snape - Britten's old home near Orford, which has been turned into a music cultural centre and concert hall. The performance is on the beach.

On meeting Alan, what immediately struck me was his intensity, which seemed to reflect perfectly the intensity of the character of Peter Grimes in the opera. Britten's operas are like that - dark and intense.

Orford is the kind of town that Peter Grimes himself would have fished out of, and it's also one of my favourite spots anywhere. So I'm ending this post with a digression with a picture that I took by moonlight while anchored on the River Ore just a little downstream from the Maltings. I'd just crossed the North Sea and was seeking shelter in the comfort of the river, watching Kieslowski's Colours on the laptop and arguing about the meaning of it all over a glass with good friend Lukasz. Here the river is beautiful and perfectly sheltered, the calm after the storm, but after the crossing I could all too well empathise with Peter Grimes' deep rooted fear of the sea - which of course destroys him

Simon CroftsComment