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Opera. The innocent must be destroyed. Swedish premiere for Britten's heart-rending drama Billy Budd. Peter Mattei is making a special appearance for us in the title role.
Only men in the cast
We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of England's most prominent opera composer, Benjamin Britten, with a Swedish premiere for his heart-rending drama Billy Budd from 1952, one of Britten's few operas for a symphony orchestra. It is a tale of a human being's right to rebel, about psychological power struggles within a masculine structure – Billy Budd only has roles for men.
In the original, Billy Budd takes place on a ship. Handsome young seaman Billy arouses everyone's sympathies – in some cases even desire – and is falsely accused of mutiny. He is in a weak position, partly because of his stammer, and cannot defend himself – he is condemned to death.
Director Richard Jones has set the story in an English boarding school environment complete with disciplinary exercises, bullying and underlying homophobia. The production comes from the Frankfurt Opera, where it was highly acclaimed. Richard Jones' assistant director Katharina Thoma is responsible for our production. As then, Billy Budd is here being interpreted by one of the most dazzling international opera stars – baritone and Court Singer (Hovsångare) Peter Mattei, who is returning to our opera house after an absence of 13 years. The upright Captain Vere's role (originally written for Britten's life partner, tenor Peter Pears) is interpreted by Lars Cleveman. Billy's evil genius Claggart is interpreted alternately by bass Clive Bayley from the original production and The Göteborg Opera's Mats Almgren. Experienced Britten conductor, Jan Latham-Koenig, most recently made a special appearance with us in Thaïs.