OP2745. Billy Budd (Britten), Live World Premiere Performance, 1 Dec., 1951, w.Britten Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Peter Pears, Theodore Uppman, Frederick Dalberg, Geraint Evans, Michael Langdon, etc. 3-VAI 1034. Transfers by Doug Pomeroy. Final Sealed Copy! – 089948103424
“Theodore Uppman’s professional début took place in 1947, as Pelléas in a concert performance of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande with Pierre Monteux and the San Francisco Symphony, opposite Maggie Teyte as Mélisande. He was subsequentely engaged to appear in the same role at the New York City Opera, again with Maggie Teyte. In 1951 Theodor Uppman was invited by Benjamin Britten to create the title role in his opera BILLY BUDD at Covent Garden. This role was a tremendous success for the young singer. He repeated the role of Billy in 1952 on NBC-TV Opera (abridged version), and again in 1970 with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Met engaged him in 1953. His repertoire there included roles such as Papageno in The Magic Flute (under Bruno Walter), Masetto in Don Giovanni (under Karl Böhm), Guglielmo, Sharpless, Taddeo in L’Italiana in Algeri, Ping in Turandot, Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos and Paquillo in La Périchole. He also created a number of roles in modern operas, among them Pasatieri’s Black Widow. He sang in the first American performance of Britten’s Gloriana. Throughout the 1950s he toured the United States and Canada as a member of the ‘Belcanto-Trio’, together with Pierette Alarie and Léopold Simoneau. He has sung hundreds of solo recitals and was a frequent guest in radio broadcasts and television (Voice of Firestone and Bell Telephone Hour). He participated in the world’s first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, and sang a number of performances at La Scala, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Kennedy Center and in a recording, conducted by the composer. Since 1977 he has been on the voice faculty of the Mannes College of Music, New York. In 1988 he joined the faculty of Manhattan School of Music. He has not only taught master classes at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh (he has been named an Honorary Director of the school) but also in America, Europe and Australia.
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“On records, it is the sheer beauty of Uppman’s tone that first commands attention: the light spin so perfect for French music, the rich lower range, which has been described as having ‘that mellow and engaging warmth which were a part of the vocal art of Ezio Pinza’. But after just a few notes, it is Uppman’s ability to reach our hearts to ‘speak to us’ as it were, that takes center stage. Mr. Uppman has the rare gift of personal involvement in whatever he chooses to sing. From this inner concept he brings a sincerety and musical purpose which illumine and intensify the mood and music. His diction is so clear, so easy, and so musically cadenced that the text coincides in sense with the beauty of phrasing. It was on the famous BILLY BUDD recording (conducted by Britten), when I heard this singer for the first time. I was immediately deeply impressed by the beauty of his voice. I think his involvement with the role of Billy is unique!”
- Allan Altman
"Sir Peter Pears was a British tenor celebrated for his profound and original interpretations. Mr. Pears' personal and professional partnership with Benjamin Britten, with whom he lived from the 1930's until the composer's death in 1976, led directly to the creation of what many consider the most important body of English opera after Purcell. Britten wrote all of his major tenor roles, and most of his solo vocal works, specifically for Mr. Pears. The operas include 'Albert Herring', 'Peter Grimes', 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'Billy Budd', 'Owen Wingrave' and 'Death in Venice'. Mr. Pears made his Metropolitan Opera début in the latter work - which called for his continual onstage presence for 2 1/2 hours - in 1974, at the age of 64."
- Tim Page, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 April, 1986
“BILLY BUDD was originally written in four acts. This version is occasionally revived, such as at the Vienna State Opera in 2001 and 2011. It has been recorded at least twice. The 1966 BBC Television broadcast was conducted by Charles Mackerras, with Peter Glossop (baritone) as Billy, Peter Pears as Vere and Michael Langdon as Claggart. The 1967 Decca studio recording was made of the two-act version; the recording sessions were attended by staff from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where the opera had been revived in this version in 1964.
In the four-act original version, BILLY BUDD received its United States première in 1952 in performances by Indiana University Opera Company. The opera was produced on 6 November 1970 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with Uppman reprising the title role; the cast also included Richard Lewis as Vere, Geraint Evans as Claggart, Bruce Yarnell as Redburn, Raymond Michalski as Flint, and Arnold Voketaitis as Ratcliffe. It has become part of the repertory of the New York Metropolitan Opera. A 2010 production by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera marked the operatic directorial début of the theatre director Michael Grandage.”