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Travel Tip: Opera in England
Billy Budd

Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten
Billy Budd : By Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten: Billy Budd
Libretto: l.M. Forster and Eric Crozier after the novel by Herman Melville

This year marks the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, born suitably enough on 22 November, the feast day of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music. His powerfully dramatic opera Billy Budd returns to Glyndebourne with Jacques Imbrailo in the title role, Mark Padmore and Brindley Sherratt making their role debuts as Captain Vere and Claggart.

The tense and stifling atmosphere on board a British man of war during the Napoleonic wars, with discipline brutally enforced and danger of attack ever present, is powerfully evoked in this production by Michael Grandage. With the fear of mutiny always at the back of officers’ minds, crew members below deck were obliged to obey orders instantly and without question. As John Masefield, author of Sea Life in Nelson’s Time, put it: ‘A captain of a ship at sea was not only a commander, but a judge of the supreme court, and a kind of human parallel to deity. He lived alone, like a little god in heaven, shrouded from view by the cabin bulkheads, and guarded always by a red-coated sentry, armed with a drawn sword.’

But what happens when the human deity is crippled by doubt? When he is forced to make a terrible decision over life and death? Britten and his librettists E.M. Forster and Eric Crozier present a situation where a man’s innocence, a shining goodness as embodied in the character of Billy, is not enough to save him. And at the heart of it all lies an insinuating emotional ambiguity, making this opera a deeply disturbing.

Andrew Davis, conductor
Director: Michael Grandage
Designer: Christopher Oram
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable

Captain Vere: Mark Padmore
Billy Budd: Jacques Imbrailo
Claggart: Brindley Sherratt
Mr Redburn: Stephen Gadd
Mr Flint: David Soar
Lieutenant Ratcliffe: Darren Jeffery
Red Whiskers: Alasdair Elliott
Donald John Moore
Dansker: Jeremy White
Novice: Peter Gijsbertsen
Squeak: Colin Judson
Bosun: Richard Mosley-Evans
Maintop: Dean Power
Novice’s Friend: Duncan Rock
First Mate: Michael Wallace
Second Mate: Benjamin Cahn
Arthur Jones: Brendan Collins
Cabin Boy: Charlie Gill
Midshipmen: Sebastian Davies, Tom Foreman, William Gardner,
Quentin Zach-Martins, Will Roberts
Sailor: Padraic Rowan

London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2013 Website

Detailed schedule information:
5:25 pm

Contact: Glyndebourne
Lewes, East Sussex

Tel: (44) 1273 813 813

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