Britten's operas often focus on the way particular worlds deal with an outsider. The outsider in Billy Budd is a young man, press-ganged into naval service on the HMS Idomitable around 1797. His story is told in an opera-length flashback by the ship's captain, Edward Fairfax Vere, who is racked by guilt over Billy's fate. Billy's optimism, good-heartedness and trusting nature wins over all but the most venal of the downtrodden crew. He's keen for promotion, but his charisma and beauty cause the evil master-at-arms, John Claggart (who resembles Iago in Shakespeare's Othello), to plot his destruction. Billy's fatal flaw is that, under pressure, he suffers from a crippling stutter. When Claggart falsely accuses him of fomenting mutiny, in front of a sceptical Vere, Billy cannot find the words to defend himself and strikes Claggart dead. At the subsequent court-martial, Vere must follow the letter of the Articles of War and Billy is condemned to death. Typically, just before his execution, Billy cries out in praise of Vere. Now a very old man, Vere concludes that Billy's blessing has, in fact, saved him. Francesca Zambello's production of Billy Budd returns. Sponsored (1995) by The Friends of Covent Garden with additional support from The Britten Estate Ltd.


Simon Keenlyside (Billy Budd), Kim Begley (Captain Vere), Eric Halfvarson (Claggart), Timothy robinson, Graeme Broadbent, Peter Auty, Quentin Hayes, Francis Egerton, Richard Coxon, Adrian Clarke, Alan Opie, Stephen Richardson, Keel Watson, John Connell


Author: Britten
Company: Royal Opera
Design: Alison Chitty
Lighting: Alan John Burrett
Conductor: Richard Hickox
CORONAVIRUS: All UK venues closed on 16th March 2020, restrictions were lifted on 19th July 2021. Please note that iUKTDb archive listings between March 2020 and July 2021 may not be accurate as we did not receive details of all rescheduled and cancelled shows.

Billy Budd

Billy Budd (Opera or Operetta) production archive for QTIX code T1290089925. Details of all Billy Budd archived productions can be found under the QTIX code: S1877

Archive Listings

20 Sep 00
3 Oct 00
Royal Opera House
West End
Greater London

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