Skip to main content

Billy Budd at the Royal Opera

This was a new production of Britten Billy Budd. It was last staged at the Royal Opera before the turn of the millennium.



Billy Budd was sung by Jacques Imbrailo who portrayed a playful and naive youth well. His voice was in character, though seemed a little tired towards the end. Toby Spence gave us a nuanced and at times helpless Captain Vere. Brindley Sherratt's portrayal of Claggart was subtle, and his verminous streak really came out in the confrontation with Budd. Donald was sung by a muscular Duncan Rock.

Michael Levine's three dimensional set did the job, though the nautical theme relied heavily on the  20th century Royal Navy uniform. Ivor Bolton's reading of Britten's rich score was good - I loved the drums coming from the boxes during the battle scene. Let's hope they bring this great work back sooner.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz at BBC Proms

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique started this BBC Proms concert with Le corsaire - it was tightly played and a sonorous sound. I wonder whether this was due to the whole orchestra standing up while playing had anything to do with it. It sounded good.

Joyce DiDonato first sang La mort de Cléopâtre - her performance was mesmerising due to her dramatic delivery of text and the wonderful lines. Sir John was ever sensitive to the flow of the music. Dido’s death scene was short, yet no less powerful with DiDonata's breadth of emotions. Some may moan about her over dramatic delivery at the expense of pitch accuracy - but that's just nitpicking.

The second half of the concert was Harold in Italy - a whimsical and eclectic piece that's interesting to listen to - but I wonder whether this should have been played in the 1st half of the concert.

Lohengrin at the Royal Opera

There is a lot to like about Lohengrin - big choruses, brassy sound, bit soprano roles, big tenor roles. So it is always a challenge to take this much-loved Wagner opera to the next level.

Jennifer Davis as Else von Brabant was excellent - her strong acting skills were matched by her vocal abilities and clear delivery of text (always important for Wagner). Christine Goerke gave us a gutsy and verminous Ortrud in sharp contrast to Davis. Thomas Mayer's Telramund started out bombastically in act one, but reduced to a suitably weak and introspective voice by the end of act two - which I think what the role demanded. Klaus Florian Vogt, the horn player turned tenor, gave us an otherworldly Lohengrin. The timbre of his voice sat "apart" from the rest of the cast - ethereal for quiet contemplative moments, heroic where needed. It's not a voice that you need to "like", but a voice that suited the role.

David Alden's direction took advantage of the three dime…

Porgy and Bess, English National Opera

I quite forgot the first number in Porgy and Bess is Summertime! Beautifully sung by Nicole Cabell as Bess. On a whole, the chorus number was better sung than the solo numbers - where the diction was generally inadequate. The set (Michael Yeargan) was three-dimensional and worked really well with the many scenes in this work. John Wilson was in his elements in the pit and the orchestra responded with a rhythmic boisterous sound - the best part of the evening.