Written some 40 years after Moby Dick, Herman Meville’s Billy Budd is a moving tale of good versus evil. Set aboard a British navy ship at the end of the eighteenth century, a young, innocent sailor’s charm and good nature put the men around him at ease. Ship-life agreed with Billy. He made friends quickly and was well liked, which infuriated John Claggart, the ship’s cold-blooded superior officer. Mutiny was a continual threat greatly feared by naval officers. In order to keep crews in their place, even minor offenses, regardless of guilt or innocence, were harshly dealt with. The envious Master-at-Arms -- obsessed with the destruction of the “Handsome Sailor” -- tormented the young man until his false accusations led to an eventual charge of treason against Billy.
Music: From the Naxos catalogue