Cultural showcase: British Council Partner Filmhouse

As part of our mandate to promote cross cultural relationships between Britain and Nigeria, the British Council is partnering with FilmHouse Cinema on a showcase that will see some of the best British operas screened across the country.

The showcase will be kicking off this month with a screening of English National Theatre's award winning production of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes. The opera was originally adapted from George Crabbe's book The Burough. According to information on the English National Opera website, the opera is set in the bleak, enclosed world of a fishing village that provides the backdrop for the story of fisherman Peter Grimes and his uneasy relationship with the other inhabitants. Following the death of Grimes's apprentice, the community presumes Grimes to be guilty. Although he is cleared of any blame, the villagers no longer trust him, and when his new apprentice accidentally falls to his death, Grimes spirals towards a tragic breakdown.

The most significant British opera in over two centuries, Britten's Peter Grimes is a work of visceral and sustained beauty, and is notable for the orchestral interludes that depict the sea in different moods.

Our partners, FilmOne Distribution, a company known for its sound professionalism and innovation, believes this screening offers alternative content to movies via visually refreshing stories told using the ever green ‘Opera’ platform. FilmHouse cinemas will exclusively screen the Opera in stunning cinematic high definition from July 25th 2014, in all its locations. This laudable feat is the first of its kind in West Africa.

Ojoma Ochai, Director Arts, British Council Nigeria said, “We are very pleased about the partnership with FilmOne Distribution and FilmHouse Cinemas and look forward to sharing high quality performances from the UK with new audiences in their cinemas across Nigeria.”

In ENO's production, Stuart Skelton, described as the ‘definitive’ Peter Grimes, takes the lead role, with Elza Van den Heever playing Ellen, Iain Paterson does justice to Balstrode’s role, while Rebecca de Pont Davies gives a spectacular performance as Auntie. Directed by David Alden and conducted by Edward Gardner, Peter Grimes features some of the most powerful and evocative music ever written and was a massive hit in the UK.

International critics have given rave reviews about Peter Grimes. The London Evening Standard hails it as “a shattering evening of music theatre”, The Observer calls it “unmissable”, The Times states “Stuart Skelton's Grimes is both ravishingly sung and fully dramatically realised”, while the Daily Telegraph praises “Edward Gardner’s masterly conducting … the orchestra plays for him as if possessed, and the result is an evening of scorching intensity”.

The first screening of the opera in Nigeria will take place at Filmhouse Cinema venues in Lagos, Ibadan and Calabar 25th to 31st July 2014.