September 24: Billy Budd (1951)
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Benjamin Britten, Billy Budd, Peter Pears, Covent Garden, conducted by Benjamin Britten
Premiered at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, on December 1, 1951 (with Britten conducting, for the Festival of Britain).
Billy Budd will be produced this season by the Washington National Opera (September 18 to October 3, 2004), the production brought from Covent Garden, which we have the chance to see together. (I will be attending on Monday, September 27.) We are covering this opera out of chronological sequence for this reason.
Libretto (4-act version): Eric Crozier, with E. M. Forster (synopsis). (Based on Herman Melville's last prose work, the novella Billy Budd, Foretopman, which was written from 1888 to 1891 and concluded five months before Melville's death. The book was not published until 1924.) The two-act revision of the opera, made by Britten in 1960, is now the standard version.
- Dr. Downey, Francesca Zambello's Production of Billy Budd
- Lindsay Heller, Good and Evil in Britten's Tonal Language: Billy vs. Claggart
- Grace Cho, Three symbols of Melville's story in Billy Budd
- Kyoung-Hee Jung, Three important characters
- Tim Ballard, The Love Triangle in Billy Budd
- Dr. Downey, Billy Budd, Act I