Billy Budd is Britten's gripping opera of sadism and injustice aboard a British man-o'-war. The libretto, by E.M. Forster and Eric Crozier, is based on the literary masterpiece by Herman Melville and tells the tale of a young seaman, Billy Budd, who is persecuted malevolently by his master-at-arms, Claggart. Accused of mutiny, the stammering Budd accidentally strkes Claggart dead and the tormented Captain Vere has no alternative but to hang him. The opera explores many universal themes - the individual at odds with society, the corruption of innonce, the continual conflict of good and evil - which no doubt lay close to the heart of Britten's own pacifism and are themes which are explored in much of his dramatic music.
This production has Britain's leading operatic baritone, Thomas Allen, in one of his most distinguished roles, as Billy. He is noted not only for his superb abilities as a singer, but also for his acting skills, particularly necessary for the demanding role of the naive and virtuous character of Billy Budd. Philip Langridge as Captain Vere repeats his recently highly-praised portrayal.
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