Britten: Peter Grimes - Vickers, Harper, Evans, Bainbridge, Watts, Barstow, Bryn-Jones; Davis. London, 1969
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Jon Vickers may have been the person most responsible for the proliferation of Peter Grimes and helping it to become one of Britten's most popular operas. Although his interpretation departed from Britten's vision of the character, his brooding and burnished tenor was a natural fit. This performance, from 1969, is valuable because it displays him in the role before the natural wear and tear of the dramatic repertoire would make the lyrical sections of this role more labored. The Vickers' mannerisms are still present, but he also manages some sublimely beautiful and lyrical singing. He is joined by the great Heather Harper as Ellen Orford. Harper's voice had the perfect amount of lyricism and plushness for this role and she conveys the character's tragic stoicism quite poignantly. Geraint Evans is an excellent Balstrode. The cast is peppered with a panoply of great British singers including Elizabeth Bainbridge, Forbes Robinson, Delme Bryn-Jones, Helen Watts and even a young Josphine Barstow as one of the Nieces. The sound is very good.