Thursday, September 14, 2017

Iowa Public Television to broadcast "Billy Budd" with Craig Verm

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos: Des Moines Metro Opera)
On September 29th, Iowa Public Television will broadcast the world premiere of the newly orchestrated version of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. The opera features barihunk Craig Verm, whose promo photo from this production were featured in our 2017 Barihunks Calendar. The episode will be available online.

The production, which was filmed in July, features a number of other singers familiar to readers, including Zachary James as the evil John Claggart, Michael Adams as Donald, Emmett O'Hanlon as the Novice's Friend and barihunk turned hunkentenor Chris Carr as Maintop. The all-male cast included 70 singers and was the largest ensemble in the 45 year history of the Des Moines Metro Opera. [Zachary James is slated to appear in our 2018 calendar].

The Iowa Public Television coverage includes behind-the-scenes footage and perspectives on the making of Billy Budd, the stage experience, the opera’s complex emotional themes, as well as interviews with Des Moines Metro Opera General and Artistic Director Michael Egel, conductor David Neely, stage director Kristine McIntyre and principal cast members.

Craig Verm as Billy Budd (photos: Des Moines Metro Opera)
“'Billy Budd' is a true masterpiece,” said Craig Verm, the baritone featured in the title role. “It’s epic in its scope of onstage forces of orchestration, of story, of morality, and of good and evil. It’s gripping. It’s magical.”

In 2007, Verm first appeared in the opera as the Novice's Friend in Pittsburgh opposite the Billy Budd of Nathan Gunn and the thrilling Claggart of Greer Grimsley. The production was directed by the woman who inspired Barihunks, Francesca Zambello.

Billy Budd had its world premier at London’s Royal Opera House on December 1, 1951 conducted by the composer with the role of Captain Vere sung by Britten’s partner Peter Pears. Billy Budd received its United States premiere in 1952 at the Indiana University Opera Company with Jack Gillaspy in the title role.

A number of famous barihunks have sung the role of Billy Budd, who many believe was secretly desired by the evil Claggart. Famous barihunk Billy Budd's include John Chest, Simon Keenlyside, Richard Stilwell, Nathan Gunn, Rod Gilfry, Bo Skovhus, Thomas Hampson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Peter Mattei, Lauri Vasar, Lucas Meachem, Jacques Imbrailo, Daniel Belcher, Roderick Williams, Iurii Samoilov and Liam Bonner. 

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