Score by Benjamin Britten published by Boosey and Hawkes in Browse through all arias, ensembles and roles from the opera Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten. With links to the scenes with movies and more information. Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd based on Herman Melville’s story, is one of the 20th Century’s most tragic operas and the only opera with an all-male cast.

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Billy BuddOp. Originally in four acts, it was first performed at the Royal Opera HouseLondon, on 1 December ; it was later revised as a two-act opera with a prologue and an epilogue.

Forster had an interest in the novella, which he discussed in his Clark lectures at Cambridge University.

Having admired Britten’s music since attending a performance of The Ascent of F6 inhe first met the composer in October when he heard Peter Pears accompanied by Britten perform the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo at the National Gallery. Forster agreed to this project, and worked with Eric Croziera regular Britten collaborator, to write the opera’s libretto. This disturbed Britten, but Ghedini’s opera gained little notice.

Britten originally intended the title role for Geraint Evanswho prepared it but then withdrew because it lay too high for his voice. When Britten conducted the opera’s premiere, in its original form of four acts, it received 17 curtain calls.

Uppman was acclaimed as a new star. In Britten revised the score substantially in preparation for a BBC broadcast, and compressed it into two acts. Vere’s first appearance after the prologue had been originally the Captain’s Muster, in which he addresses the crew at the end of Act 1; Britten cut this, explaining to his librettist Eric Crozier that he had never been happy with that scene, [4] so making Vere’s first appearance on the ship a private moment alone in his cabin.

The original version in four acts is still occasionally revived, such as at the Vienna State Opera in andand has been recorded at least twice. It has become part of the repertory of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

A production by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera marked the operatic directorial debut of the theatre director Michael Grandage. The opera premiered at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow on November 25, The opera’s stage director is David Alden and the conductor is William Lacey.

Billy Budd (revised 2-Act version)

Captain Edward Fairfax Vere, an old man, reflects on his life and his time in the navy. He reflects on the conflict between good and evil, he is tormented by guilt over the case of Billy Budd on board his ship, HMS Indomitablesome years earlier.


The crew of the Indomitable works on deck. For slipping and bumping into an officer, the Novice is sentenced to be flogged.

Billy Budd

At the same time a cutter approaches, returning from a merchant ship where it has pressed three sailors into the Royal Navy. One of these sailors, Billy Budd, seems overjoyed buvd his situation — entirely different from the other two who are not so happy. Claggart, the Master-at-Arms, calls him “a find in a thousand,” despite the slight defect of a stammer.

Billy says a jaunty farewell to the Rights o’ Manhis former ship, innocent of what his words imply. The officers take his words as a deliberate provocation and order the men below decks. Claggart tells Squeak, the ship’s corporal, to keep an eye on Billy and give him a rough time. The Novice returns from his flogging, unable to walk and helped along by a friend.

Billy is shocked at the cruelty of the punishment, but is certain that if he follows the rules he will be in no danger. Dansker, an old sailor, nicknames Billy “Baby Budd” for his innocence. At this point in the four-act version came the climax of Act I, in which Captain Vere appeared on deck to give a speech to the men. In the two-act version, Dansker simply tells the others Vere’s nickname, “Starry Vere,” and this is enough for the impulsive Billy to swear his loyalty to the unseen captain.

In his cabin, Captain Vere muses over classical literature. His officers enter, and they discuss the revolution in France and the mutinies in the Royal Navy sparked by French ideas of democracy.

The officers warn that Billy may cause trouble, but Vere dismisses their fears and expresses his love for the men under his command. Below decks the sailors rough-house, but old Dansker remains gloomy.

Billy goes for some tobacco to cheer him up, and discovers Squeak rifling through his kit. In a rage, Billy begins to stammer. He knocks Squeak to the ground as Claggart and the corporals enter. Billy is still unable to speak, but Claggart takes his side and sends Squeak to the brig. However, when alone, Claggart reveals his hatred for Billy and vows to destroy him.

He orders the Novice to try to bribe Billy into joining a mutinyand the broken-spirited Novice quickly agrees. Billy refuses the bribe and believes he will be rewarded, but Dansker warns him to beware of Claggart. Claggart begins to tell Vere about the danger that Billy represents, but is interrupted by the sighting of a French ship. Sdore Indomitable attacks, but loses the enemy in the mist. Claggart returns, and tells Vere scode Billy poses a threat of mutiny.

Vere does not believe him and sends for Billy so that Claggart may confront him. Later, in Vere’s cabin, Claggart repeats the false charge to Billy’s face. Once again, Billy begins to stammer in rage. Buds to speak, he strikes Claggart, killing him. The Captain is forced to convene an immediate court-martialand the officers find Billy guilty and sentence him to hang.


Billy begs Vere to save him, and the officers appeal to him for guidance, but Vere remains silent and accepts their verdict.

Billy Budd | Open Music Library

He goes into the cabin where Billy is being held, and the orchestra suggests a tender offstage meeting as the captain informs Billy of the death sentence. This was the end of Act 3 in the four-act version.

Billy prepares for his execution in his cell. Dansker brings him a drink and reveals that the crew is willing to mutiny for his sake, but Billy is resigned to his fate.

Four o’clock that morning, the crew assembles on deck, and Billy is brought out.

The Articles of War are read, and show that Billy must be hanged. Just before his execution, he praises Vere with his final words, singing “Starry Vere, God Bless you! Vere, as an old man, remembers Billy’s burial at sea, reflecting that the man he failed to save has instead blessed and saved him. As he recalls Billy’s blessing, he realises he has discovered genuine goodness and can be at peace with himself. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Address Act 2 Scene 1: Captain Vere’s cabin Scene 2: Berth-deck Act 3 Scene 1: Main deck and quarter-deck Scene 2: Captain Bily cabin Act 4 Scene 1: Bay of the upper gun-deck Scene 2: Main deck and quarter-deck Epilogue.

Benjamin Britten, Billy Budd. Archived from the original on 2 March Archived from the original on 17 January Retrieved 26 April The Operas of Benjamin Britten. Archived from the original on 9 March Night Mail The Prince of the Pagodas bdud Piano Concertorev. Homage to Paderewski Variations on an Elizabethan Theme War Requiem film. List of compositions by Benjamin Britten Category: Helpmann Award for Best Opera.

Benjamin Britten – Billy Budd (revised 2-Act version)

Retrieved from ” https: Forster in performing arts Courts-martial in fiction. Webarchive template wayback links CS1 maint: Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 11 Decemberat By using this site, you agree to the Terms hritten Use and Privacy Policy. Opera by Benjamin Britten.

The composer in Billy Budd by Herman Melville. Mini-feature of the Glyndebourne production of Billy Budd 6: