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Britten: Billy Budd [Blu-ray] (2011)

John Mark Ainsley , Jacques Imbrailo , Michael Grandage , Francois Roussillon  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Britten: Billy Budd [Blu-ray] + Britten: The Turn of the Screw [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: John Mark Ainsley, Jacques Imbrailo, Phillip Ens, Sir Mark Elder, London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Directors: Michael Grandage, Francois Roussillon
  • Writers: Benjamin Britten, E.M. Forster, Evans Crozier, Herman Melville
  • Producers: Francois Roussillon, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen, Color
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2011
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004UU31WU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,219 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Glyndebourne has a proud association with the operas of Benjamin
Britten, however until 2010 had never staged Billy Budd. The all-male
opera with a libretto co-written by EM Forster, is based on the battle
between pure good and blind evil, and is set on a British man-'o-war ship.
Michael Grandage, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, chose
this work to make his long-awaited operatic debut. Sir Mark Elder
returned to conduct the production, marking the 100th opera production
in his illustrious career.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nail-biting drama on the high seas July 4, 2011
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
This new recording of Britten's Billy Budd from Glyndebourne can be recommended without hesitation. I don't have much to add to what the previous reviewer already said. There is no weak link in the (all-male) cast, but John Mark Ainsley and Jacques Imbrailo should be singled out anyway - they are both amazing in their parts. Chorus and orchestra are excellent, as is Mark Elder - another one of the great recordings with this conductor. Even if you know the plot, this recording plays almost like a mystery story and keeps you at the edge of the seat... Particularly impressive is the set; the transitions from deck to cabin and back are stunning. It's good to see that this opera is now out on a state-of-the-art blu-ray. The old BBC version of this opera with Peter Pears is great, too, not just from a historical perspective, but this new recording might well be the new gold standard. With the good mixture of close-ups and views of the entire stage, it works well on the screen, but guessing from the audience's reaction, it must have been great in the house, too.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem! Can we now expect a Peter Grimes? July 8, 2011
This is a magnificent production. The best production of Britten operas' currently in the DVD/Blu ray catalogue.

Realistic, period sets and costumes bring us to the time of the opera. Lighting and video direction do justice to the visual aspects of the production.

Jacques Imbrailo brings the innocence of Billy Bud causing the viewer to sympathize and share the hero's feelings throughout. Phillip Ens may not be as sinister and unsympathetic a Claggart as Michael Langdon was in the Mackerras/Pears set Britten: Billy Budd, but still he is a daemonic schemer,plotting against Budd. John Mark Ainsley,in the role of Captain Vere, inevitably triggers comparison with Peter Pears in the above set. He may not have the aristocratic class of Pears and he does not quite become as sympathetic a figure as his peer, still he serves the role with adequacy.

Picture is of top quality and sound is excellent, with a fine balance between voices and orchestra.

May we ask for a Peter Grimes from Glyndebourne and if we are not too greedy, a revival of the magnificent Peter Hall production of Albert Herring Britten - Albert Herring / Graham-Hall, Rigby, Opie, Kern, Palmer, Johnson, Gale, Van Allan, Hammond-Stroud, Haitink, Glyndebourne Opera? These would complement the magnificent, albeit in a diffent style production of Death in Venice by Teatro La Fenice and would complete the cycle of recent productions of the major Britten operas.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, near-definitive production July 4, 2011
Mark Elder, the conductor for this production of Billy Budd at Glyndebourne 2010 notes that all Britten's opera works are in some way about the loss of innocence. It's an interesting observation that, if too neat and reductive a way to describe the qualities and the approach that Britten takes on the subject in Billy Budd, at least shows that it's a personal theme that means something to the composer. Elder, of course, isn't intending to summarise the power and complexity of this opera or Britten's work in a single phrase, and his deep understanding of the wider themes of Billy Budd is evident in his conducting of this remarkable production.

More than just being about the loss of innocence, it's the different manner in which that innocence is corrupted in each of Britten's operas (Peter Grimes, The Turn of the Screw), that makes them such intriguing works, works that are consequently capable of creating a deep impression on the listener. And although on the surface, Billy Budd, adapted from a short novel by Herman Melville, seems simple enough in its broad depiction of the malicious and deliberate destruction by cruel and heartless authorities of an innocent young man - a common sailor on board the HMS Indomitable in 1797, hard-working, of good heart, kind to his comrades, respectful of his superiors and loyal to the crown - the question of what motivates such behaviour (in the form of John Claggart, the ship's master-of-arms) and how it is sanctioned, or at least tolerated (in the weakness of Captain Vere) is a much more complex and interesting subject that the opera touches upon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended May 24, 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
It will be difficult to surpass this production. Musically is as good as it can be envision and produced. Orchestra and singers are just perfect for the roles. The image and the sound (Blu-Ray version) put you really inside the stage and close to the characters. Although this is a staged production, the filming is so good that you feel being in the ship and could easily believe it was created for filming. The most impressive aspect of all is the acting of the principals. A movie star could have not done it better! They really get into the characters and the close ups are a real treat that the audience in the theater may not have the opportunity to appreciate so much. The lighting of the stage is very creative and works very well with the filmed version
It is a very disturbing story, but one that resonates with you since you realize that the essence of the story occurs everywhere and all the time. In summary, a Britten production at its best.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful DVD
This is a splendid production of this Britten gem. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Ben Britten operas.
Published 6 months ago by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine production and wrenching
This is a superb production of Britten's Billy Budd. Wonderfully sung and acted. Fine playing.
Quite thought provoking and emotionally moving.
Y'all will love it.
Published 7 months ago by Ann M Askew
5.0 out of 5 stars "We're off to Samoa, by way of Genoa"
One of the most sheerly beautiful Blu-Rays I have seen, this Glyndebourne production of Benjamin Britten's "Billy Budd" fills the screen with painterly images worthy of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Larry Bridges
5.0 out of 5 stars The best production I've seen of any opera
From sets to singers, this is a superior production. Musically and dramatically this a most satisfying DVD. Not to be missed.
Published 11 months ago by Larry A. Verdugo
4.0 out of 5 stars Birthday present
It is for a birthday gift. I gave him a DVD of Death in Venice by the same composer for Christmas so I thought this would be an excellent follow-up present. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Robert Hall Homstad
5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive performance
I found this at the library. I didn't know what to expect because the only person in
the cast who I had seen before was Philip Ens. Read more
Published on August 10, 2012 by tk
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful !
I just want to add to the praises for this wonderful production of Billy Budd on an excellent Blu-Ray. The previous reviewers have written great reviews, many thanks. Read more
Published on May 23, 2012 by H. Boehning
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