BRITTEN Billy Budd. John Mark Ainsley, Michael Wallace, Matthew Rose, John-Owen Miley, Richard Mosley-Evans, Peter Gijsbertsen, Ben Johnson, The Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder. Glyndebourne 3cds

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Britten Billy Budd John Mark Sir Mark Elder Glyndebourne 3Cds

BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-1976)

Billy Budd

Captain Vere - John Mark Ainsley tenor

First Mate - Michael Wallace baritone

Second Mate - John-Owen Miley-Read bass

Mr Flint, Sailing Master - Matthew Rose bass

Bosun - Richard Mosley-Evans baritone

Maintop - Peter Gijsbertsen tenor

Novice - Ben Johnson tenor

Squeak, a ship’s corporal - Colin Judson tenor

Mr Redburn, First lieutenant - Iain Paterson bass baritone

Lieutenant Ratcliffe Darren - Jeffery bass baritone

Claggart, Master-at-Arms - Phillip Ens bass

Red Whiskers - Alasdair Elliott tenor

Billy Budd - Jacques Imbrailo baritone

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder

The Glyndebourne Chorus

This live recording of Billy Budd comes from the 2010 Glyndebourne Festival. Billy Budd, Britten and Glyndebourne share an interesting history. In 1950 Benjamin Britten wrote to Ian Hunter, Artistic Administrator of the Edinburgh Festival, requesting that the first performance of his new opera Billy Budd take place at the Festival in 1951. Hunter indicated that they were ‘unanimous in welcoming the proposal’ and Glyndebourne Opera, as the resident company were the obvious partner. Hunter was possibly unaware of the schism that existed between John Christie and Britten, and maybe the old wounds ran deep, as six months later, Sadlers Wells, were in the frame, the costs subsequently proving prohibitive, so Hunter unsuccessfully re-approached Glyndebourne offering to meet all costs, but Royal Opera Covent Garden ended up producing the first production in London in October 1951.

This Billy Budd is Glyndebourne’s first production (and Director Michael Grandage’s first foray into opera), but such is Glyndebourne’s pedigree with Britten that it was an eagerly anticipated production that does not disappoint. Jacques Imbrailo as Billy Budd is simplicity at its best, with a warmth of tone and excellent diction. Iain Paterson as Redburn the First Lieutenant, leads the officers powerfully, his trio with Lieutenant Ratcli­e (Darren Je­ffery) and Flint (Matthew Rose) is as good as any moment in opera can get.

In the pit for this production is the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the command of the incomparable Sir Mark Elder passionately conveying the majesty, the mystery and the drama within Britten’s score.

Mark Elder’s command of the score is exemplary…his grip on the stage action equals Grandage’s dramatic elucidation of the score.’ David Benedict, Variety Magazine

Jacques Imbrailo makes an important career step with his assumption of Billy… Philip Ens (Claggart) emanates both evil and an almost terrifying sense of inner suffering… The central performances are all remarkable… An exceptional evening.’ George Hall, The Stage

One of the great nights at Glyndebourne…’ Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

‘…electrifying… Cast and chorus are outstanding… The London Philharmonic negotiates Britten’s lurching, shifting sand harmonies with proper vigilance and exhilarating involvement.’ Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

Glyndebourne 3cds GFOCD01710

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