There's now a group on Facebook for the Opera Gold Peter Grimes. Thanks Jenny, I think.
On it, you'll see amusing descriptions of each character on the Facebook group. Here they are with some additions and amendments:
Jenny Hunt - Auntie: Landlady of The Boar; dispenser of dodgy gin, and fixer for Ned Keene's three-in-bed quickies upstairs with the obliging nieces. Nod-and-wink vocal lines. Think Cilla from Blind Date with Cynthia Payne.
Ryan Webber - Ned Keene: Sex-crazed quack; gobby joker, Jack the Lad, initially chum of Grimes but turns against him. Jim Davidson with a chemist's shop.
Charlotte King / Ruth Willow Mariner - Mrs Sedley: Drug addicted fuss-pot; snobby retired old bag collecting reward points on Keene's Pharmacy clubcard. Think Heather Mills with an addiction problem in 20 years' time.
Dan Rudge - Swallow: Pompous, Captain-Mainwaringesque local magistrate, who can barely conceal his contempt for Grimes. Vocal lines mostly proclaimed rather than melodic.
Hamish Gallie - Balstrode: Retired sea-captain, wise village elder who's been around the block a few times; sticks up for Grimes at first but ultimately tells him to commit suicide. Bold, controlling, often ominous vocal lines. Think Alec Guinness (perh. as Col. Nicholson in River Kwai) with a pipe and a pint.
Jonathan Crowhurst / Ross Michalski - Hobson: Too pissed to walk home? Boy to be sent up a chimney? Call Yokel Taxis of the Borough. Anything and anyone carted anywhere, any time of day or night. The village carter, a dull-witted local who can't stand Grimes. Trigger from Only Fools and Horses, perhaps.
Nathalie Chalkley / Casey Evans - Nieces: Relaxing massages for gentlemen discreetly performed in the Boar's state-of-the-art shed. No job too big or small. Mostly girly, giggly melodic lines, but gorgeously moving trio with Ellen. Nowadays would be two girls both called Natasha from Eastern Europe.
Rob Ainsley - Bob Boles: Drunken, ranting, lecherous, Bible-bashing fisherman. The Borough's equivalent of the radicalising imam, a sort of Methodist Abu Hamza. Spends most of time shouting. Detests Grimes.
Abigail Sudbury - Ellen Orford: Curiously non-romantic 'romantic interest'. Lonely widowed schoolteacher, forlornly hoping that her compassion and kindness can redeem Grimes. Doesn't. Has softest, most palliative vocal lines of the whole opera. Possibly a young Maggie Smith.
Mario Sofroniou - Peter Grimes: Fisherman loner. Not evil, but stubborn, uncaring and desperately unwise. Craves ordinary respectability but won't make any compromises to get it. Most balanced man in the Borough - has chip on both shoulders. Like the man, vocal lines veer between extremes, often cutting abruptly across the chorus or even himself, trampolining between aggression and self-pity, restless lyricism and disjointed bullying.
Now, I'd just like to stress that the above description is of the roles, not of the people.
I've never gone fishing, for example.
Happy New Year, everyone. Hope 2008 brings you a very different kettle of fish.