Chapter

Salvation at Sea

Philip Brett

in Music and Sexuality in Britten

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246096
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939127 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520246096.003.0005
Salvation at Sea

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The association of Britten and E. M. Forster is one of the more interesting in the annals of opera. Britten's opera Albert Herring was dedicated to Forster quite appropriately, for it contains whiffs of Forsterian social comedy and a good dose of the message of the early novels. Forster had written sympathetically about Melville in his Aspects of the Novel, but the story offered him more than purely critical delight. For Britten, Billy Budd must have seemed a logical and necessary further exploration of themes he had already broached, most notably in Peter Grimes and Albert Herring. In Billy Budd, the setting is still a hostile, uncomfortable environment dominated by oppressive forces. The musical language of Budd as a whole is less demonstrative and colorful, subtler than that of Grimes, suggesting most convincingly a certain gray monotony of life at sea, as well as the inner grayness of a character such as Claggart, in whom it dwells.

Keywords: Britten; Billy Budd; Britten; monotony; Albert Herring

Chapter.  4212 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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