Originally Posted by Mary Chambers
I know Billy Budd quite well. I prefer the second half. Billy's doom and Vere's reaction can be very moving. But I don't find the tragedy / guilt thing markedly bleaker than in other tragic operas.
The problem often seems to be how to play Claggart. It's so easy for him to be a two-dimensional villain, his vow to crush Billy seeming unconvincing. John Tomlinson was great at the ENO some years back - the hatred plainly being a twisted version of self-hatred when he couldn't cope with the effect Billy was having on him.
"The isle is full of noises... Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not"
The Tempest, Act III scene 2 ll 148-9