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Subject: Re: Peter Grimes
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 2 Mar 2018 21:33:12 -0500
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I think it's very easy to understand why the sexuality question comes up. And this also 
easily extends to other "outsider" characters in Britten's operas, such as Claggart, 
obviously Aschenbach, and even Albert Herring. 

And it also comes up with other male characters who have trouble connecting, a major 
example being Bobby in Sondheim and Furth's "Company." Certainly, people might say, 
the reason Bobby is so afraid to commit to marriage is that he's gay, right?

And I'm always reluctant to go there - simply because it's just nowhere in the text. In the 
revised version of Company, Bobby does admit, in casual conversation, to having tried 
sex with men, but I find the line rather unconvincing in the scene's context (it always 
sounds more to me like he's saying it to sound "with it" in his changing society more than 
it necessarily being true) - and then he also rejects the advances of his friend who asked 
the question in the first place. 

It's perhaps easier to claim homosexual struggles in Claggart, but is it really him or just 
the way we want to project feelings on him? Surely Budd isn't the only one with 
"beauty/handsomeness" on the ship - and we don't get any other evidence that he's 
attracted to anyone else on the Indomitable. Is Herring just a naive mama's boy who 
hasn't found any trace of manhood in himself yet (even after the spiked lemonade lol), or 
is he just a bit envious of Nancy landing a stud like Sid, lol? We can put our own fantasies 
on all that, but I don't really see that in the text anywhere. 

Indeed, Britten may have been interested in the stories of these outsiders because he too 
saw the sexual implications - but I'd agree with Vickers that the pieces themselves go 
way way beyond that. I'd say that such subtext can be left up to us, to percieve if we 
want to. But I certainly don't want to see some regie Grimes where Peter is actively 
interested in the men - or, more to the point, in the young boys that lose their lives under 
his watch. We can always secretly wonder if that's an element of the story, but it's just 
not what the opera is "about" - at least for me. 



On Fri, 2 Mar 2018 18:03:49 -0800, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Someone brought up the issue of Grimes and homosexuality and asked if that wasnít 
the real reason for his isolation from the rest of the borough. Vickers said ďthat may be 
what Ben (Britten) had in mind, but the work he and Monty (Slater) produced goes so far 
beyond that specific and lays out a universal truth of the human condition. Some people 
just canít fit in. But everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.Ē He didnít deprecate gay 
people at all, but simply said there are many other reasons people can feel that kind of 
isolation.

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