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.
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.
Archive :: production:T1290089925, opera or operetta:S1877, venue:V377
Francesca Zambello's production of Billy Budd
returns. Sponsored (1995) by The Friends of Covent Garden with additional support from The Britten Estate Ltd.