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Notes and Editorial Reviews
The first of the groundbreaking television productions of Britten’s operas, Billy Budd was staged by Basil Coleman, who had produced both the opera’s premieres at the Royal Opera House – that of the original four-Act version, and of the revised two-Act version performed here. Using the BBC’s two-studio technique, he created massive, painstakingly authentic settings on a 1770s man-o’-war. With 1960s monochrome and flat lighting, it’s hardly Master and Commander, but its fluency and shifting viewpoints are still striking today, far in advance of stage telecasts, and the coherent atmosphere undoubtedly enhances the drama onscreen. Charles Mackerras maintains both the score’s gusty energy and claustrophobic tension, with an equally intense
cast. Peter Pears inhabits rather than acts Captain Vere, the anguished scholar-warrior to the life. Grimly sonorous, Michael Langdon (himself an ex-petty officer) makes Claggart appear Vere’s dark mirror, brutish but keenly self-aware. Peter Glossop’s rather mature but jovially natural Billy remains the finest voice I know in this role. Officers and crew are equally impressive, from John Shirley-Quirk’s Redburn to the youthful Robert Tear and Benjamin Luxon as Novice and Friend.
-- Michael Scott Rohan, BBC Music Magazine
Formating: Video Aspect Ratio 4:3, Color, Dolby and DTS Surround Sound, NTSC.
Subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese.
Works on This Recording
Billy Budd, Op. 50 by Benjamin Britten
Peter Glossop (Baritone),
Peter Pears (Tenor),
John Shirley-Quirk (Bass Baritone),
Robert Tear (Tenor),
Benjamin Luxon (Baritone)
Sir Charles Mackerras
London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1951/1960; England
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Britten and Mackerras- what a duo! August 1, 2013
By Leonard B. (Sarasota, FL) See All My Reviews
"I had the privilege back in the early l990's to hear Mackerras conduct the Metropolitan Opera orchestra in a performance of Britten's "Billy Budd." Recalling the film version with Terence Stamp in the lead role, I decided to hear and see the opera on which the film was largely based in addition to Melville's classical text. I was not disappointed with Mackerras' interpretation at the opera house nor with this recording that I recently returned to after many years. If you like Britten, you will similarly like Mackerras in this CD version."