Monday, August 8, 2011

Billy Budd Preview 2011-12

Billy Budd returns to the met for the first time in more than a decade starring the leading interpreter of the role Nathan Gunn.

The Production
John Dexter's 1978 production returns. It was hailed back in 1997 as one of his greatest achievements and one of the Met's most successful productions ever staged.  The set by William Dudley confines the action within a multi-tiered ship. While I still have yet to see the production I expect it to maintain its vibrancy and spectacle that it had in 97. 

The Cast 
Based on Herman Melville's last Novella, Billy Budd tells the tale of an innocent young sailor who falls from grace and is executed due to the treachery of the malevolent Claggart. In order to successfully perform this opera great singing actors are needed. This year the leading interpreter of the title role Nathan Gunn sings his first Billy Budd at the Met. James Morris returns to his acclaimed interpretation of Claggart. 

Nathan Gunn made his debut at the Met in 1995 in the Ghost of Versailles but did not get his first leading role at the Met until 2005 in "An American Tragedy." Since then Gunn has become a sought after artist for his Mozart and contemporary music interpretations all around the world. His Billy Budd interpretation has been hailed as "the very embodiment of Billy's untroubled youth and vigor." His voice has been praised for "encompassing the easy lilt and fall of Billy's vocal lines" as well as for singing with "lusty precision in the opera's most highly dramatic moments." It is no doubt that his recording which he made with Virgin Classics under the great Daniel Harding won the Grammy for best opera recording a couple of years ago.  

John Daszak joins Nathan Gunn in the role of Vere in his Met debut. Daszak is a quickly rising star who has quickly established himself for his diverse repertoire. His voice has been acclaimed for its flexibility, and beauty. In addition Daszak is becoming well known for his intelligence, and effortless characterization.'

James Morris rounds out the cast returning to the satanic character of Claggart, a role he has sung ever since the Met premiered it in 1978. His imposing presence makes him right for the role as he is a great actor and as a result it has become one of his signature roles. When he first sang the role at the Met, Morris was hailed as being thoroughly convincing and was even called the perfect incarnation of Satan  in mans clothing. As I mentioned in my previous Aida and Tosca previews Morris may not be in his prime but he is still a pleasure to watch on the stage.

While I may not be a Britten fan, I must admit this cast is a perfect reason to go see the opera. Britten's gem is rarely performed and with Nathan Gunn in the title role it is a must see this year. 

No comments:

Post a Comment