Billy Budd


Benjamin Britten Billy Budd opera to a libretto by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier. Directed by Deborah Warner at the Teatro Real. Stars Jacques Imbrailo (Billy Budd), Toby Spence (Edward Fairfax Vere), Brindley Sherratt (John Claggart), Thomas Oliemans (Mr. Redburn), David Soar (Mr. Flint), Torben Jürgens (Lieutenant Ratcliffe), Christopher Gillet (Red Whiskers), Duncan Rock (Donald), Clive Bayley (Dansker), Sam Furness (Novice), Francisco Vas (Squeak), Manel Esteve (Bosun), Gerardo Bullón (First Mate), Tomeu Bibiloni (Second Mate), Borja Quiza (The Novice's Friend), Jordi Casanova (Maintop), and Isaac Galán (Arthur Jones). Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Real de Madrid (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero). Stage design by Michael Levine; costume design by Chloe Obolensky; lighting design by Jean Kalman. Directed for TV by Jérémie Cuvillier. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

Jacques Imbrailo stars as Billy Budd here and also in the beautifully-done 2010 version of Billy Budd from Glyndebourne/Opus Arte that we graded A+. Writing in the 2018 November Gramophone (pages 95-95), Richard Fairman (November 2018 Gramophone at pages 94-95) says that Deborah Warner’s production of Billy Budd in Madrid is more stripped-down and abstract than the Glyndebourne show. This makes it harder to tell the story, but also gains “strength of universality.” Fairman comments on Jérémie Cuvillier’s recording saying “the acting works so well in close-up that it is possible to follow this performance almost like a film.” Fairman goes on to call the final scene in Madrid “as powerful as it gets.” So it appears we now have 2 fine HDVDs of Billy Budd.

Here's a clip from the Teatro Real: