Billy Budd 2010

Your reviews of the 2010 Festival production

Captain Vere and Billy Budd from the 2010 Production

Congratulations, Glyndebourne, this Billy Budd was stunning: a near-perfect fusion of conductor, orchestra, soloists, chorus and sets.

21-May-2010 10:59

Ursula Higham de Nemeskeri

It was great! And John Mark Ainsley was fantastic as Vere. Sir Mark did a sterling job too!

21-May-2010 12:28

Hin-Yan Wong

Billy Budd was phenomenal last night. What an inspired and inspiring production. Congratulations all round.

24-May-2010 11:46

Fraser Grant

I thought Sunday’s performance was magnificent. In fact, one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve ever had at the opera – and how many of those have been at Glyndebourne!
Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda are especial favourites and Billy Budd now joins them. I hope to see it again before the end of the run.

25-May-2010 16:32

Douglas Cairns

The combined talents in this powerful performance bring a new meaning to teamwork. It was thrilling to be there Spike Smilgin Humphreys

25-May-2010 16:57

M Smilgin Humphreys

Excellent in both production and performance; no need to say more!

25-May-2010 20:04

Michael A Bell

This was not a good production. It was not excellent.
It was way beyond that - utterly magical - spellbinding from first to last.
I have heard and seen this work many times but this was a revelation.

I shall go again - and again.

26-May-2010 09:44

Michael E Corby

We attended the performance on 20th May and are still reeling from it! It was a sublime, powerful experience. The singing, orchestra, sets and direction combined to make an afternoon of rare beauty. The haunting choruses were superb and there was a growing sense of menace and discontent. Jacques Imbrailo and all the soloists were utterly believable and the solos and ensembles superb. We want to see it again soon!

26-May-2010 12:52

Gilly Wilford

This was an almost flawless production (appropriately, perhaps). Musically superb, intellectually gripping, it turned our two hour journey home afterwards into an extended discussion of the ambiguities and complex morality of a deceptively simple story. We admired the set - which turns the whole theatre into a claustrophobic little ship - and will cherish many extraordinarily beautiful and moving musical moments. Above all, there was the sense of a company on top form working together magnificently. Thank you.

27-May-2010 20:56

Hilary Fraser

Congratulations to all the Company for a most wonderful performance of Billy Budd. It went straight up to the top 2 or 3 of our all time great opera experiences.
Everyone gave so much to it and the soloists, chorus, orchestra, lighting, direction, production all excellent themselves.

28-May-2010 10:23

Janet Richards

Everything about this production of Billy Budd on Saturday night was razor tight, Mark Elder's conducting was quite wonderful, bringing out every detail of this brilliant score. After hearing his Mahler 9 on Radio 3 last night it's clear this is a man at the height of his powers.

01-Jun-2010 16:39

Chris Elliott

This was by some way the best performance, musically and dramatically, that I have seen of of this great opera. Mark Elder's conducting was revelatory and orchestra and chorus were superb. Jacques Imbraglio's Billy was up there with the greats (e.g. Glossop, Allen, Keenlyside) and brought a tear to the eye in Billy in the Darbies. The comprimario parts were all exceptionally well sung and were real characters. Vere and Claggart were not the best I have seen but were still very good. My wife and I are Budd veterans; our young guests were new to it; we were all overwhelmed by the opera and the performance. Many congratulations and thank you for a wonderful evening which even the rain could not spoil. One of the great Glyndebourne nights.

01-Jun-2010 16:51

Michael de Navarro

We attended the performance of Billy Budd on May 20th appetites whetted by the superb study day the week before. Nothing, however could have prepared us for the impact on the day. Phenomenal – superb – gripping from start to finish, it was one of the most exciting and moving operatic experiences ever. It worked brilliantly musically, visually and emotionally. Thank you.

01-Jun-2010 16:51

Robert Clifford-Jones

The set lived up to the verbal description I'd had and was the reason we were there.

I prefer Peter Grimes for its musical evocation of the sea or Turn of the Screw for unrelenting menace. However, here the chorus was a force of nature, as compelling and thunderous as the sea itself. After one of the decks has come down like a lid on the cooped and seething men below, a tidal wave of sound poured over us, leaving us beached and breathless. The claustrophobia induced by the set not only made you appreciate the prison-like quality of the man o' war but, including the auditorium as it does, also locked us in to endure the tragedy. Not for the first time, I longed for the drama to unfold differently.

The acting equalled the fine singing and my angry contempt (for a change) was for the Captain, Vere. He exemplified Edmund Burke's statement: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 

I'd urge anyone to go and see this production, if only to understand the escape and addiction of wartime action. Billy's stammer and moonlit lament, followed by his stoic friends coming to hold the execution rope is as moving a finale as I've seen. 

01-Jun-2010 20:54

Susie Wilde

The production on Saturday night was stunning! Cast, orchestra, director and conductor were fantastically talented and Jacques Imbrailo was amazing as Billy Budd. I think that everyone will enjoy this production, it is without a doubt the most menacingly superb opera I have ever seen. Lucy

01-Jun-2010 21:00

Jeremy Biddle

This production provided a truly memorable Glyndebourne evening. It niggled that the ship never moved -even when firing at the French - hammocks seemed superfluous and the flag's indication of wind velocity was somewhat erratic, but for a depiction of below deck bullying and victimization this was masterly antidote to the pride of the Nelson legend and the majesty of Turner's paintings. 

This cross section of a Man of War provided the social, political and economic framework that institutionalized brutality and inspired mutiny. The indecision and weakness of Vere and the simplicitas of Budd fell victim to evil. Superb orchestral playing under the baton of Sir Mark Elder, surely one of the greatest opera conductors of our generation, and masterly cameos of the characters of Vere by John Mark Ainsley whose Prologue could not have been more perfectly measured to the size of the House, and Budd by Jacques Imbrailo who showed Budd to be innocent rather than stupid, make this production one for all time.

This must not be missed.

02-Jun-2010 09:46

Irene Carrier

I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of "Billy Budd" last Saturday. It was possibly the best overall presentation I have seen at Glyndebourne - and I have now attended 169 over 51 years (none on business).

What a pleasure it was to see a staging which actually reflected the description of the opera and the libretto.

The set and costumes were excellent, realistic yet practical, the singing was of a very high standard and the orchestra and its conductor quite magnificent. The attention of the audience was exemplified by their quietness (even after the dinner interval!) and their enthusiasm was evidenced by the immediate and loud applause after the performance (not before, thank goodness).

If I wished to carp I could say that I did not find the John Claggart as sinister as, say, Forbes Robinson of many years ago and I did not feel the way of presenting the transition of Captain Vere from the last scene to the epilogue particularly convincing. These are just my personal opinions, of course.

I could add the inclement weather,but in fifty one years, I think I have only suffered really poor weather on aboutten occasions. This mostly reflects credit on the original selection of the site!

I look forward to seeing three more operas this season and, if I am still around, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" and Rusalka in particular next year.

02-Jun-2010 09:48

Graham Ives

An outstanding evening of opera/drama.The orchestra and conductor, chorus and production won the day for me and also the minor roles which took on distinctive characters. If the major roles did not quite aspire to the late Philip Langridge or John Tomlinson , Glyndebourne have set a very high standard and this coming from a rather weak Benjamin Britten fan!
Well done

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