In the summer of seventeen hundred and ninety seven

Billy Budd is the second of Britten’s large scale operas.  Originally envisaged as a four act piece with prologue and epilogue it was later reorganised into two acts and that’s the version the BBC recorded and broadcast in 1966.  That broadcast has now been released on DVD.  Technically it shows it’s age.  The picture is 4:3 black and white though there’s a remastered, and very decent, LPCM mono sound track.  There’s also an enhanced Dolby mono track.  The video too has been restored and looks pretty decent.

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Thomas Allen and Eva Jenis in The Cunning Little Vixen

Once in a while a video recording comes my way that’s just pure delight.  The 1995 recording of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen from the Théâtre du Châtelet is one.  The creative team of director Nicholas Hytner (director), Bob Crowley (designer), Jean-Claude Gallotta (choreagrapy) and Jean Kalman (lighting) created a spectacle that is as much ballet as opera with vivid costumes and simple sets  It’s a rather splendid and touching adult fairy tale. Continue reading