MIKE WHEELER is impressed by
Opera North's 'Billy Budd'
In Opera North's new co-production, with Nederlandse Reisopera, of Britten's Billy Budd (Theatre Royal, Nottingham, UK, 16 November 2016), Leslie Travers' ingenious three-level set presents HMS Indomitable as a literal triple-decker universe, but one in which, in Orpha Phela's production, heaven and hell continually invade each other's spaces.
Captain Vere sings his prologue and epilogue, looking back on events, in front of the interior wall of an obviously once grand building, whose decay echoes similar deign features in Opera North's concurrent production of Der Rosenkavalier. It then lifts to reveal the ship and crew.
Alan Oke's lyrically-phrased Vere is a figure of real humanity, caught in the dilemma of a man who simply wants to do the right thing but is hemmed in by circumstances...
Copyright © 28 November 2016