Owen Wingrave

Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976)

WED 9 DEC

The Times ★★★★

With live theatre performances severely restricted by Covid-19, Grange Park Opera, Surrey has filmed Owen Wingrave, an opera created by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) specifically for TV.

Henry James’ ghost story Owen Wingrave tells of an army family – the Wingraves – who have locked away a hideous secret in their grand house, Paramore. Owen is the heir; all hell breaks loose when he announces that the army isn’t for him.

Filmed over five September days, director Stephen Medcalf explains: “A minimal crew maintained distancing in intimate domestic interiors and COVID restrictions required the cast to costume themselves. I’ve given full rein to the satirical, often blackly comic aspects of the opera. Alongside that there are three serious themes: the pressure from society to conform; the courage it takes to stand up for who we really are; the destructive love of family.”

In the words of Henry James: “A piece of ingenuity pure and simple, of cold artistic calculation, an amusette to catch those not easily caught.”

The opera is presented with the kind collaboration of Faber Music and The Britten Estate.

Britten did not own a TV when the work was broadcast on BBC2 on 16 May 1971. However, Decca presented him with a set two years later.

The work is an expression of Britten’s own pacifism, and was partly a response to the Vietnam War.

Cast

OWEN WINGRAVE ∙ ROSS RAMGOBIN

MISS WINGRAVE, his aunt ∙ SUSAN BULLOCK

SIR PHILIP WINGRAVE, his grandfather ∙ RICHARD BERKELEY STEELE

Mr COYLE ∙ WILLIAM DAZELEY

MRS. COYLE ∙ JANIS KELLY

LECHMERE ∙ JAMES WAY

MRS. JULIAN ∙ MADELEINE PIERARD

KATE, her daughter ∙ KITTY WHATELY

NARRATOR ∙ RICHARD BERKELEY STEELE

Back to Interim Season

Sponsored: Hamish & Sophie Forsyth

DIRECTOR ∙ STEPHEN MEDCALF

CONDUCTOR ∙ JAMES HENSHAW

VIDEO PRODUCTION ∙ FINTAN O’CONNOR

SOUND ∙ TOM MARSHALL

PIANO ∙ CHRIS HOPKINS

PERCUSSION ∙ CRAIG APPS

The Daily Telegraph
Jennifer Vyvyan

Jennifer Vyvyan