wed 12/08/2020

Billy Budd, Glyndebourne Festival Opera | reviews, news & interviews

Billy Budd, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Billy Budd, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Blazing teamwork in Michael Grandage's Glyndebourne debut production

HMS Indomitable: Billy Budd, good but flawed, and on his way to a terrible death Alastair Muir

Silence. Near-darkness. Oozy weeds of orchestral strings twist in the mind of Edward Fairfax Vere (John Mark Ainsley), remembering the tragic events of 1797 when he was Captain of the HMS Indomitable. From that awe-inspiring start through to one of the most upsetting of onstage murders, perhaps the greatest parade of major and minor chords in all opera and beyond to some kind of redemption, Michael Grandage's Glyndebourne production - his first in the operatic sphere - of Britten's grandest opera moves with a simplicity and grace which fit this tight little craft of an opera house very well indeed. It's the singing and the orchestra in perfect balance which packs the punches, rather than any one idea in the staging, but that's not necessarily any defect.

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Beautifully-evoked & written review. Clearly a strongly atmospheric production of Britten's most horrifying opera. Had the good fortune to see/hear Langridge's Vere, with the equally superb Thomas Allen as Budd, in the very stark '80s ENO production by Tim Albery (conducted by ? David Atherton). However, no John Tomlinson - that rôle was taken by Richard van Allen, I believe. It's a perfect piece for a small house like Glyndebourne, where intimacy no doubt emphasises the claustrophobic elements of the tale.

This was a thrilling night and a triumoh for Michael Grandage's first opera, but you have to mention Paule Constables beautiful lighting.

Yes, you're right, Edgar, in the 45 minutes I had after curtain-down at Glyndebourne I knew there'd be one casualty. Though I would say that the lighting didn't seem quite to me for the "mists rise up" scene, it was indeed atmospheric for the two cabin scenes and the single/double shafts of light as Vere goes in to talk to Billy. This evening certainly grows in the mind. I reckon critics should have the option of seeing certain shows twice, the second time at the end of the run.

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