Britten: Billy Budd (Benjamin Britten/ Philip Langridge/ Thomas Allen) (Arthaus Dvd: 100278)
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A cast of luminaries supported by the English National Opera gives a profound and masterful reading of Britten's gripping opera of sadism and injustice aboard a British man-o'-war this month. Following the widely acclaimed Peter Grimes, released on Arthaus in May 2003, this production reunites Tim Albery's direction with the phenomenal talent of Philip Langridge, often acclaimed as a natural successor to Peter Pears.
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 strikes 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 innocence, the continual conflict of good and evil - which no doubt lay close to the heart of Britten's own pacifism and are themes common to much of his dramatic music.
\A welcome release on DVD of Tim Albery's dramatic English National Opera production with Philip Langridge giving a blistering performance in the title role... David Atherton's conducting is exemplary, Barry Gavin's camera direction is faultless. A performance to watch again and again." Opera Now on Peter Grimes: 100 382
"Tim Albery's Peter Grimes for ENO is one of the most dramatically truthful productions of the opera to have reached the stage" BBC Music Magazine on 100 382
"With its new production by ENO at the Coliseum, Billy Budd makes a colossal impact" Daily Express "