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This extraordinary adventure started when I collected my headphones and began to follow the instructions of my fisherman friend in my ears. As we walked through Aldeburgh he introduced characters from the community and told me about their tough lives. After a while music from Peter Grimes could be heard too.

My first visit was to a fisherman’s hut, somewhere he lived and worked when not at sea. At Moot Hall, the noticeboard included information about the trial of Peter Grimes. A visit to the unoccupied room of schoolteacher Ellen was interrupted by her return, requiring me to hide in the wardrobe lest she see me! Off to a lock-up to fetch some keys for my fisherman friend I encountered a rather drunken Bob Boles, the Methodist preacher.

Leaving the town, I walked on a path through the marshes to a hut. Inside, Peter’s apprentice busied himself and gave me an identical fisherman’s lucky charm to the one I’d seen in the first hut before ushering me out of the back door. I was now Peter Grimes, facing a group of vigilantes determined to get me.

Three & a half hours later I was sitting on Aldeburgh beach. The rain had stopped but the shingle was damp. A spitfire flew past a few times to remind us it was 1945 and the second world war had just ended. The continual sound of the waves was broken by the opening music of Peter Grimes. A long ramshackle set of boats and walkways faced the town and the audience.

The orchestra was recorded but the singers sang live, amplified, though you hardly knew it. You could hear every word. In a fine cast, Giselle Allen was the best Ellen I’ve ever seen, and David Kempster a wonderful Balstrode. The choruses soared and at times appeared to be coming from the sea itself. The drama gripped from the off as we moved from the court to the streets of The Borough to the pub to the chapel to the beach and to Peter’s hut.

This was the ultimate in site specific performance and my discomfort disappeared the more captivated I became. Punchdrunk on a smaller scale and opera director Tim Albery scaling new heights. A once-in-a-lifetime experience that exceeded expectations and proved to be as exhilarating as art can be.

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