Opera

Billy Budd

Benjamin Britten
The National Theatre

Basic information

Venue

The National Theatre

Approximate running time

2 hours 40 minutes, 1 intermission 20 minutes

Language

In English, Czech, English subtitles

Premiere

January 18, 2018

The National Theatre presents the opera in Czech premiere, in the original version, made up of four Acts.

Billy Budd, by the British composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), is based on Herman Melville’s eponymous novel and tells the story of that which took place on board a British battleship during the Napoleonic Wars. Britten was fully aware of the destructive power of sexuality, afflicting both hetero- and homosexual individuals (most notably, he treated the subject in his opera Death in Venice). He was also a passionate pacifist, possessed a great sense of justice, and he personally resented violence, be it in war conflicts or committed on individuals

Creatives

Musical preparation
Christopher Ward
Stage director
Daniel Špinar
Costumes
Marek Cpin
Light design
Karel Šimek
Chorus master
Adolf Melichar
Choreography
Radim Vizváry

About

Original 4-Act version (1951)
Libretto: Edward Morgan Forster and Eric Crozier, based on the novel by Herman Melville
The State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Featuring Losers Cirque Company and
members of The Czech Philharmonic Children’s Choir, chorus master: Jiří Chvála Czech

Billy Budd, by the British composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), is based on Herman Melville’s eponymous novel and tells the story of that which took place on board a British battleship during the Napoleonic Wars.

Britten was fully aware of the destructive power of sexuality, afflicting both hetero- and homosexual individuals (most notably, he treated the subject in his opera Death in Venice). He was also a passionate pacifist, possessed a great sense of justice, and he personally resented violence, be it in war conflicts or committed on individuals. All these topics are afforded a significant role in the opera Billy Budd, in which a handsome, naïve and trustful youth becomes the object of hatred on the part of a sadistic manipulator, master-at-arms Claggart, who falsely accuses Billy of inciting the crew to mutiny. Billy inadvertently kills his torturer and is duly sentenced to death. Captain Vere faces an agonising decision: should he pardon the innocent boy, or should he abide by the law of war? He does not prevent the tragedy and the memory of his fateful failure will haunt him throughout his life.

Billy Budd is a purely masculine and, after Peter Grimes, the second “nautical” opera of Britten’s, in which the sea, the rocking of the waves and the gusts of wind are reflected in every single bar.

The premiere performance, on 1 December 1951 at Covent Garden, was conducted by the composer himself. In 1960, Britten revised the score.

Practical information

Where to buy tickets

When purchasing online, we will send you an E-ticket by e-mail. You can pick up printed tickets in person at any of our box offices.

Parking at the National Theater

While visiting The National Theatre and the New Stage You can use nearby secure car parks:
Kotva department store (Revoluční 1/655, Prague 1), then walk along Králodvorská street to Ovocný trh.
Palladium department store (Na Poříčí 1079/3a, Prague 1), then walk along Králodvorská street to Ovocný trh, or to the Powder Gate through Celetná street to Ovocný trh.

From the beginning of April 2020, the underground car park is closed due to reconstruction. The length of the reconstruction is estimated at a year and a half.

 

What to wear?

By their appearance, attire and behaviour, the audience is obliged to adhere to the accustomed practice expected from them when attending a theatre performance.

Buffets at the National Theater

No waiting. For your benefit, please pre-order your food and beverages at the bar to minimize waiting in the queue!

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