Glyndebourne Festival Opera – Billy Budd (DVD) [John Mark Ainsley, Jacques Imbrailo, Phillip Ens, Mark Elder, Michael Grandage]

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Billy Budd – Opera in two acts to a libretto by E. M. Forster & Eric Crozier adapted from Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Foretopman

Captain Vere – John Mark Ainsley
First Mate – Michael Wallace
Second Mate – John-Owen Miley-Read
Mr Flint, sailing master – Matthew Rose
Bosun – Richard Mosley-Evans
Donald – John Moore
Maintop – Peter Gijsberten
Novice – Be Johnson
Squeak – Colin Judson
Mr Ledburn, first lieutenant – Iain Paterson
Lieutenant Ratcliffe – Darren Jeffery
Claggart, Master-at-arms – Phillip Ens
Red Whiskers – Alasdair Elliott
Arthur Jones – Toby Girling
Billy Budd – Jacques Imbrailo
Novice’s Friend – Duncan Rock
Dansker – Jeremy White
Cabin Boy – Sam Honywood
Midshipmen – Freddie Benedict, Alastair Dixon, Adam Lord, Pascal Tohouri & Joseph Wakeling

The Glyndebourne Chorus

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Mark Elder

Michael Grandage – Director
Christopher Oram – Designer
Paule Constable – Lighting designer
Tom Roden – Movement director

Recorded 8 & 11 June 2010 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Lewes, East Sussex
François Roussillon – TV Director & Producer

Reviewed by: Mark Valencia

Reviewed: June 2011
OA 1051 D (2 DVDs)
Duration: 3 hours 20 minutes [including bonus items]



In his insightful booklet note, Peter Reed (who reviewed Glyndebourne’s staging for Classical Source) observes that Grandage’s production “gives the audience room to come to its own conclusions about this very great, very disturbing work.” That is one reason why these DVDs will repay repeated viewing. Another is the all-round brilliance of the singing, acting, playing, conducting, direction and design; a third is the exemplary quality of Opus Arte’s video production. Wherever the camera roams it reveals actor-singers who are wholly engaged with their roles and, as Britten himself explicitly intended, at the centre of it all stands Vere, his moral torment, as portrayed here by John Mark Ainsley, captured in unforgiving close-up. It’s a majestic performance.

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