Director of Opera Annilese Miskimmon herself directs this masterpiece, featuring an exclusively male cast. Director Annilese Miskimmon and Set and Costume designer Annemarie Woods, take us onto a submarine during the Vichy regime in 1940s France. Here we meet a close and claustrophobic environment, controlled by sailors’ discipline and the meaningless necessity of war.
BRITTEN’S BILLY Benjamin Britten is the most often-performed composer to be born in the 20th Century. His great breakthrough was Peter Grimes in 1945, before the chamber operas The Rape of Lucretia(1946) and Albert Herring (1947). With Billy Buddhe returns to the full opera format. The piece had its premier at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1951, where Britten also took the role of conductor. Britten’s life partner Peter Pears took the role of Captain Vere.
Certain themes recur through Britten’s works: conflicts between individuals and society, the horrors of war, destructive conventions and when homosexuality was still illegal under British law, and theatrical and operatic performances continued to be censored. What the opera says about these themes is therefore given in coded form. But this opera is also about being a human, in a world where one is ultimately alone; where we yearn to belong, to be loved, forgiven and accepted.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STORY ON THE WORLD The text is based upon a novel by the American literary giant Herman Melville, perhaps best known for another maritime adventure: Moby Dick. Billy Budd, Sailor was one of Melville’s last works, and was discovered among his papers when he died in 1891. Thomas Mann, another giant of literature, called the novel «the most beautiful story in the world».