Reviews: Billy Budd in New York

This week the Orchestra is in New York for four performances of Britten's Billy Budd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, with Glyndebourne Festival Opera soloists and chorus under Sir Mark Elder. The production, which was critically acclaimed at Glyndebourne last summer, has received rave reviews from the New York press so far – read the reviews here.

'Mark Padmore delivers the performance of a lifetime as Captain Vere ... The cast and musicians (the London Philharmonic Orchestra led with sympathetic mastery by Sir Mark Elder) build this to a point of such exhilaration that the audience feels the palpable, bitter frustration of the crew when the ship is unable to close range, and the mists of the ocean and memory enshroud the action once again.'
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 9 February 2014

'This, the second of four performances at BAM, was not only a marvelous musical experience, but also a gripping evening of theater ... Sir Mark Elder led the London Philharmonic in a superb account of Britten's score.'
David M. Rice, Classical Source, 9 February 2014

'It's the music, which Mark Elder conducts with loving detail and precise power, that makes the HMS Indomitable such a thunderous box. Except for a quartet of young boys who sprinkle the score with high notes, this is a low-register opera, anchored by a sailor's chorus, martial timpani, and a tidal rumble of double basses. The London Philharmonic and Glyndebourne Opera Chorus delivered them all with subtlety and depth.'
Justin Davidson, New York magazine 'Vulture' section, 10 February 2014

'The musical center of Billy Budd is the great chorus at the start of the second act, when the Indomitable, after weeks of waiting and boredom, is about to join action against a French frigate. The mist lifts, the sun rises (the lights are full for the only time in this production), the Union Jack unfurls at the stern and the men, in full voice, sing "This is our moment, the moment we've been waiting for!"
The cast and musicians (the London Philharmonic Orchestra led with sympathetic mastery by Sir Mark Elder) build this to a point of such exhilaration that the audience feels the palpable, bitter frustration of the crew when the ship is unable to close range, and the mists of the ocean and memory enshroud the action once again.'
George Grella, New York Classical Review, 8 February 2014

Read a New York Times interview with Mark Padmore

More about the production on the Brooklyn Academy of Music website
Read LPO violinist Kate Birchall's diary of the tour