John Claggart

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(Britten: Billy Budd). Bass. Master‐at‐Arms on board HMS Indomitable. He is a suspicious and brutal character, jealous of Billy Budd's good looks and popularity among the crew. Claggart does his best to ingratiate himself with Vere. He is determined to belittle Billy in Capt. Vere's eyes, and to this end he orders one of the sailors to spy on him. When Billy interrupts the man searching his belongings and accuses him of stealing, Claggart reports to the captain that Billy is rousing the men to mutiny. The two men face Vere together. Billy tries to defend himself to Vere, but stammers and cannot get the words out. In frustration he strikes out at Claggart who, striking his head as he falls, collapses and is found to be dead. Billy is sentenced to death. Aria: Would that I never encountered you. Successful portrayers of this role have included Forbes Robinson, Michael Langdon, John Tomlinson, and Richard Van Allan. Created (1951) by Frederick Dalberg.

Subjects: Opera.

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