Met Opera on Demand Catalog
(Mar. 31, 1979)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Librettist: E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, based on the short novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville
Leppard; Pears, Stilwell, Morris
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Approximate running time: 2 hrs. 27 min.
Herman Melville’s gripping story of good and evil, set on an 18th-century British warship, inspired one of Britten’s most brilliant operas. Richard Stillwell is Billy, the young sailor with a stammer and a pure heart whose goodness arouses the hatred of Claggart (James Morris). When Claggart falsely accuses Billy of attempting to incite mutiny, Billy strikes and accidentally kills him. Captain Vere (sung by Peter Pears, Britten’s partner and creator of the role, in his last Met performance) has no choice but to have Billy hanged for murder, even though Claggart’s charges are false. Peter Glossop is Mr. Redburn and Raymond Leppard conducts.