Further reviews of Britten’s Billy Budd at Glyndebourne Festival Opera conducted by Mark Elder. Click on the newspaper links to read the whole reviews.
Edward Seckerson in the Independent (5 stars):
The big set pieces are marvellously marshalled, too, the thrilling call-to-arms in act two achieving a visceral excitement physically and sonically, its onstage drummers powering us into the attack, the ship’s ensign billowing at the stern. The Glyndebourne Chorus, small in number but mighty and incisive in sound, are, of course, integral to the impact of the show meshing brilliantly with the many named roles to achieve a wonderfully busy and coherent ensemble. Is there anything as uplifting, as overwhelming, as the huge choral swell of the shanty “Blow her to Hilo” when it’s this lustily sung?
Magnificently conducted by the Mark Elder with an unerring sense of the score’s momentum and many moments of stasis the London Philharmonic served him handsomely, queasy bass undulations fathoms below the light-catching streaking and skirling of exposed high woodwind and trumpets.
Rupert Christiansen in the Telegraph (5 stars):
But I was still enthralled beyond my wildest hopes by this stupendous achievement, and scarcely know where to begin lavishing praise. If there are any tickets for the remaining performances, I can only urge every serious opera-lover to go to murderous lengths to acquire them.
Mark Elder’s conducting held the score in an iron grip. Never one to rush things or skate over details, he drove the London Philharmonic Orchestra to the music’s depths, generating overwhelming power and emotional impact in the great climaxes – the haunting sounds of Billy’s hanging are still echoing in my ears as I write.
Andrew Clements in the Guardian (4 stars):
The remorseless inhumanity of the story is certainly vivid, both on stage and in Mark Elder’s account of the score, by turns luminous and scaldingly intense. Elder does not neglect a single detail of what is perhaps Britten’s greatest orchestral accomplishment, and both the playing of the London Philharmonic and the singing of the Glyndebourne chorus have marvellous presence. The smaller roles are uniformly well taken, with Jeremy White as Dansker, Ben Johnson as the Novice and Matthew Rose, Iain Paterson and Darren Jeffery as the three officers all outstanding.
Richard Morrison in the Times (4 stars): That concern with detail is evident, too, in Mark Elder’s conducting. From the London Philharmonic and the thrilling Glyndebourne Chorus he gets an aptly macho blast at climactic moments. But his approach elsewhere is lithe, lean and balanced. Voices are never masked, and the words — Herman Melville’s story, adapted by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier — mostly emerge crystal-clear.
And in Classical Source
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