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Billy Budd [DVD] [2004]

Thomas Allen (III) , Philip Langridge    Exempt   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 24.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Billy Budd [DVD] [2004] + Albert Herring [DVD] [2011]
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Product details

  • Actors: Thomas Allen (III), Philip Langridge, Richard Van Allan, Philip Guy Bromley, Clive Bayley
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: ARTHAUS
  • DVD Release Date: 1 April 2004
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001NPU2O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,758 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

The Benjamin Britten opera in two acts which tells of the sadism and injustice aboard a British man-of-war. David Atherton conducts the English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

Product Description

Billy Budd

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Budd? 9 Oct 2011
By Bonzo
Format:DVD
This is a must see for all Britten fans, opera fans, and lovers of dramatic theatre. The recording is, admittedly, showing its age (1987 vintage), but the transfer to DVD is good. The voices are well balanced and all the leads sing with such clarity that surtitles need only be used by those unfamiliar with the English language. And what leads! The three main protagonists were all at their considerable peaks when this was made. Thomas Allen both looks and sounds like an innocent, enthusiastic able seaman, all wide eyed and beaming smiles. His acting is superb, and the execution scene is genuinely heart rending. The sorely missed Philip Langridge is similarly magnificent, portraying Vere's affection for Budd and inner torment at having to pass the death sentence on him with great subtlety and humanity. His look of desolation in the final scene is unforgettable. Claggart is played by the late lamented Richard van Allen, one of the great character actors in British opera, and presents him from the outset as the epitome of heartless oppression, revelling in his freedom to mete out draconian punishments against the sailors. Together with sympathetic direction by Tim Albery and perfect orchestral support under David Atherton, I cannot think that Billy Budd will ever be better presented on the stage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This must rate as the best available version currently available, in my estimation. Though I am more of an enthusiast than an expert, it is clear that the performances on display here are all top class. Thomas Allen, in particular, is superb in the lead role. His excellent singing and brilliant acting would justify the purchase of this version alone. However, there is the added bonus of top class performances from Philip Langridge as Captain Vere and Richard Van Damm as Claggart.
The picture and audio quality are also perfectly acceptable considering that this performance was some years ago. Heartily recommended !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!!! Now this is opera! 11 Jun 2001
By J. Barry-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Sir Thomas Allen in his autobiographical book 'Foreign Parts' wrote that he and the rest of the cast of this ENO production could not believe the queues around the block for tickets for this production. Well, I can well understand the public taking this production to its heart. In its own quite understated way this austere and stylised production by Tim Albury is a winner on every level. Each of the many roles in this all male opera has been filled with a singing actor who really has what it takes; especially Phillip Langridge who instills his Captain Vere with all of the confused pain his role demands, Richard van Allan as a true black hole of a man as Claggart (although there does seem to have been some audio re-recording over his aria) and, of course, Sir Thomas' Billy is so moving in its simplicity that at times it is unbearable. The chorus is very fine, but could have been more overwhelming in their 'Blow her away' moment, but the orchestra is truly astonishing in its accuracy and power. David Atherton conducts the performance of his career. His musical direction is in turn delicate and earth-shattering without ever becoming bombastic, and how unusual it is to notice a conductor who actually listens and allows every line, whether vocal or orchestral, to be heard. A truly outstating document of a stunning performance!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars BIlly Budd disappoints 13 Jun 2004
By Mark Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
It is good to have a DVD of Billy Budd, perhaps Britten's greatest opera, but this ENO production, that should have had everything going for it - experienced Billy Budd cast, good conductor and director - simply misfires. Perfectly OK to get to know the opera, but for anyone who has seen a production that wrings the soul(such as the recent WNO (Welsh National Opera)/Australian Opera Company production conducted by Richard Hickox) this offering seems insipid, and does not convey the real power this opera has.
The fundamental problem seems to be one of body-language. With the close-up shots in this DVD, too many of the cast seem to be concentrating on the singing rather than the character (and this shows in the characterization of the voices), and their body-language fails to convey the emotions. This is reflected in the conducting by David Atherton - perfectly servicable, but without any of the bite and fire that Britten himself, or Hickox, to name but two, have brought to this score.
The actual procution itself reflects this rather bland impression. The Napoleonic period costumes (and one can hardly avoid them) are reduced to bare, simple essentials, as if half-formed, and though there are visual moments that have considerable impact, these are few and far between. Perhaps the whole thing is summarized by the midshipmen: a line of boy singers sanding side by side to one side of the stage - no colour, no vibrancy, no particular involvement with the action.
So if you see this, yes, you will get some concept of the opera, but no real idea how powerful it can be. If Covent Garden ever revive their famous production, where the entire ship was on stage, cut away so all the decks can be seen - and film it with a cast of this calibre really working with an electric conductor - then that would be the DVD to cherish. In the meantime, WNO, where are you? Their procution would have made a great DVD.
Mark Morris
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful -- Captures the Essence of Melville 9 Feb 2002
By "arvin200" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is one of the most powerful of the 50-60 opera DVDs I personally have managed to view so far. Britten somehow seemed to get wonderful librettists -- for example, the libretto for The Turn of the Screw captures the essence of James' novel in about five percent of the words James used. The same goes for the libretto Crozier and Forster (yes, THE E. M. Forster) wrote for this opera. They have absolutely captured the dramatic essence of Billy Budd, Foretopman in a form that Britten could then use to express effectively through his music.
If you read the various reviews of this production (for the originals as well as the recording), you will hear carping to the effect that (1) Thomas Allen is too old to be Billy Budd; (2) the set is too abstract; (3) the older Vere shouldn't be on stage at the climax; and so on. This is all nit-picking nonsense. The positives of this production so far outweigh the negatives that the overall result is overwhelming. You will find few opera video recordings as moving and effective as this one.
By the Way: one of the other Amazon reviewers complains about how the orchestral interlude between the scenes in the final act is cut in half. This is not an issue with the DVD -- everything proceeds seamlessly.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Production; Great Score 8 Feb 2002
By KS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a finely acted production. The only flaw is some odd business at the beginning with books (why are sailors rowing books? Peculiar symbolism). Once the story gets going, the odd staging disappears. The singers are well cast, and the parts finely sung. The DVD has very clear sound and a perfect picture.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only dvd recording of a masterpiece 9 Jan 2003
By francisbit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
At least, the only recording on dvd of one of the masterpieces of the 2oth century music; Britten opera, based on Melville's book and with a libretto by Crozier and Forster (!) is a marvellous opera, rich of ambiguities and dark music. The star of the opera is not Billy himself but Vere: here we have the greatest successor of Peter Pears, Langridge. Van Allan (Claggart) is clearly presented as a miltonian Satan, full of unhappiness and yet very proud, terrible and self-hating for his physical attraction to Billy, Thomas Allen is a superb Billy but he really does not have the good and freslooking appearance requested by such a role.I hope we'll soon can capture on dvd Kenlyside performance.
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