From the archives

"This month sees the issue of several records of Britten's music from Decca including one in the 'World of...' series. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the night that transformed the face of British opera – the premiere of Peter Grimes on June 7, 1945, at Sadler's Wells Theatre. Britten himself had not thought about the anniversary until I mentioned it to him when we met at Aldeburgh last month, but he recalled the occasion vividly, both its dark and bright side. 'It never occurred to me that the opera would work. My only other operatic experience until then had been in America with Paul Bunyan. This had proved disastrous – the wrong piece in the wrong place – and so I had no confidence about Grimes. Besides, at that time such an off-beat story was hardly thought right for an opera. This, and the quarrels going on in the company, were not very good auguries. At the dress rehearsal I thought the whole thing would be a disaster. But, of course, once the tension of the first night was over and people flocked to hear the opera, it was very exciting."