Orford, Ellen

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(Britten: Peter Grimes). Sop. A widow and the Borough school mistress. She hopes to marry Grimes and tries to defend him against the Borough. When he decides to go against advice and take another apprentice, and the carrier, Hobson, is reluctant to fetch the boy for him, Ellen offers to go with Hobson, thus calming everyone down. Outside the church, she sits embroidering and talking to the apprentice John, and she notices his coat is torn and then finds a bruise on his neck. As she questions him about it, Grimes comes to take the boy to sea, despite poor weather, as he can see there are many fish to be caught (‘the whole sea's boiling’, he tells Ellen). Her attempts to prevent him taking the boy to sea in a storm, fail. After the boy's death, she accompanies Balstrode when he tells Grimes to take his boat out to sea and sink it as the only way out of the dilemma. Arias: Embroidery in childhood; Glitter of waves and glitter of sunlight. Some outstanding sopranos have sung this role, among them Heather Harper, Josephine Barstow, Nancy Gustafson, Susan Chilcott, Amanda Roocroft, and Christine Brewer. Created (1945) by Joan Cross.

Subjects: Opera.

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