“It’s My Dream to Sing Billy Budd”
„Three years ago, after I graduated from the Kiev Conservatoire, I began to take an interest not only in the ‘popular’ baritone repertoire of Verdi and Tchaikovsky, but also in trying to expand my professional horizons. That was when I developed two dreams: to sing Debussy’s Pelléas and to perform the title role in Britten’s Billy Budd. It just so happened that both these dreams came true this year: I’m preparing for the role of Billy with enormous enthusiasm at the moment.
In the first place, the story impressed me. Above all, it tells the tale of the period at the end of the 18th century when England was at war with France, the sailors were constantly rebelling and high-ranking officers often ended up helpless in the face of the law and the government, as did Captain Vere. He could have saved Billy with a single word — the sailor’s fate and the denouement of the story depend on those two bars in the music. But the captain cannot go against the law, and that decision of his holds all the drama of the opera, its psychological conflict. I don’t think this could have happened at another time in history.
Billy Budd and Claggart represent the white and the black. When Claggart notices how much everyone loves Billy, he becomes angry because he himself will never be like Billy, and at the same time he’s afraid that he likes Billy himself. This is conveyed wonderfully in Britten’s music: in the score the characters’ themes are very clear and the details communicate the drama of their relationships. There are amazing ensembles in which you sense the scale of the ocean, waves and hurricanes. When I first heard this opera, I immediately imagined everything as a complete whole — the atmosphere on that specific ship. I think that out of all of Britten’s operas Billy Budd is the most musically accessible to an audience.“