Allan Clayton as Peter Grimes. Photo: ROH/Yasuko Kageyama (detail) View full image

Rave reviews for Allan Clayton's Peter Grimes

Reviews for Allan Clayton in Deborah Warner’s production of Britten’s Peter Grimes at the Royal Opera House have been unanimously good. Read a sample here

‘At every moment the dramatic centre of gravity is Allan Clayton’s astonishing and heroic performance as Grimes. His character – and the music he sings – is an awkward but painfully credible amalgam of rage, visionary beauty, cruelty, and tenderness. Clayton now owns this part so completely that it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing it.’ Michael Church, The i, 5*

‘Clayton gives a remarkable performance, harrowing and seared with the beauty of vocal pain, so it’s safe to predict that this former cathedral chorister can call the role his own for the next few years... It was Allan Clayton, his silken tenor twisted every which way on his character’s journey into hell, who achieved incontestable stardom as a desperate man who prowled the stage like a caged lion. He took this Peter Grimes to an indelible place in the memory. Clayton’s Grimes was a dreamer, literally so at times, but he was also a force of nature—and nature, like the man, can be red in tooth and claw.’ Mark Valencia, Musical America

‘It’s the towering individual performances, however, that will define this opera for a generation. Allan Clayton’s Grimes, sung with the sort of power that is all the more shattering for encompassing despair, is neither mad nor a sadist, although he certainly has anger issues.’ Richard Morrison, The Times, 5*

‘It should be regarded as a career-defining role, one of the most intense fusions of music and character to hit the Covent Garden stage in years. Clayton has built a powerful and humane picture of an individual who goes beyond categories like good and bad: traumatized, haunted, visionary, quick-tempered, but – most tragically – still capable of tenderness, even love, though he cannot realize them... Vocally he is peerless, and has synthesized the work of his many peers in this role to create something distinctive. “Now the Great Bear and Pleiades” began with the creamy piquancy of Peter Pears’ head voice, before rounding and blooming into the lyric chest of Jon Vickers. The climactic duet with Balstrode in Act one before the storm interlude pulled in the Heldentenor direction, full of the raw keening power of Stuart Skelton... This is not mere copycat stuff: Clayton brings his own true legato to give the character the tragic nobility of an Otello, able to soar and caress in equal measure. The final “mad scene” was another thing unto itself. Here, Clayton’s realization of the score should redefine the role.’
Benjamin Poore, Opera Wire

‘So how is Clayton? First of all, it’s a beautifully sung account. The role sits comfortably in the voice with ringing top notes contrasting with moments of hushed lyricism. The famous soliloquies, “What harbour shelters peace”, “Now the Great Bear and Pleiades” (the opening phrases of the latter sung daringly with his back to the audience), and the deftly judged mad scene, are all pitch perfect. Dramatically Clayton just is an outsider. Without resorting to gimmicks or applying any seeming effort he simply exudes ‘otherness’, his shaggy beard and dishevelled hair adding to an image that’s equal parts prophet and madman. Whatever his private ideals, it’s clear that the Borough falls so far short as to be not worth his bother. Only with Ellen do we see the door open – it’s just a crack, but enough to glimpse the needy, struggling human being within. That makes him hard to love, but the images of him reaching desperately to catch at his aerial avatar or staggering like a broken doll with the body of his apprentice wound in a fishing net, are shattering.’
Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine, 4.5*

‘Tenor Allan Clayton is vocally outstanding in the role, powerful, sensitive and dealing with its idiosyncratic vocal challenges as if they are no problem at all.’
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 4*

‘In Clayton’s portrayal, he’s never remotely knowable. Singing with icy, stinging fervour, he’s equally convincing as an oddball visionary and as the cornered animal who (in the single most upsetting scene) lashes out at Maria Bengtsson’s well-meaning Ellen Orford.’
Richard Bratby, The Spectator

‘Allan Clayton portrays Grimes as a tortured soul whose violence is more directed at himself than at anyone else, although with a bad tendency to escape in dangerous outbursts. You will hear far more brutal interpretations; in Clayton’s, Grimes violence fades quickly and there is never any possibility that he will overcome his antagonists. In the more introspective moments, such as “What harbour shelters peace”, Clayton displays a truly heart-melting voice of huge nobility...’
David Karlin, BachTrack, 4*

‘As the tortured seafarer himself, tenor Allan Clayton wins our hearts from the outset, for all his misjudgments, with the sheer beauty of tone in a voice whose delicacy and refinement belies the heft of Grimes.’
Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper, 5*

‘A vocally resolute performance that grows in dramatic stature over the course of the evening... Like the creator of the role – Britten’s lifelong partner Peter Pears – Clayton approaches his starring role lyrically; but the character steadily becomes increasingly dysfunctional. In his own programme interview, Clayton interprets the solitary fisherman as suffering from "a severe psychotic break with reality" following the traumatic death of his first apprentice... The later portions of his performance are tremendous in their impact, their vocal challenges well within his command.’
George Hall, The Stage, 4*

‘Allan Clayton is impressive in the part. His voice inclines more to the lyrical sound of the role’s creator, Peter Pears, than to the more rugged style of a Jon Vickers or a Stuart Skelton, but he uses it to moving effect in his more introspective solos.’
Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 4*

‘In the title role, Allan Clayton imbues the ursine fisherman with a terrific blend of regret and anger, railing against the poor hands dealt to him by fate. Tormented by the sight of his dead helper - shown as a ghostly form twisting in the air above Grimes's head which only he can see - the slow but definite descent into tortured madness is thrillingly executed and his final actions are a true hammer to the heart.’
Franco Milazzo, Broadway World, 4*

Read Allan Clayton’s article about playing the role of Peter Grimes.

More about Allan Clayton