Sid (Liam Bonner) and Albert (Alek Shrader) taking in an eyeful of Nancy (Daniela Mack)
Quick — imagine an opera, any opera, in your head. I’ll wait. . . . I’m guessing that you probably came up with large-bodied singers standing in one place belting out big arias in a foreign language (probably Italian, German, or French) over the strains of a big orchestra; lots of murder, suicide, rape, and other unpleasantries, with at least one character taking a full act or two to actually go through the dying process; random deities, the supernatural, and a whole host of unrealistic events are typical; and almost always, the more you know before you step foot in the opera house, the more you’ll enjoy and the better off you are (ugh, homework). It is big and can be intimidating. Sound familiar?
Albert Herring is NOT that kind of opera. Benjamin Britten’s lone comedy is a human-scaled, English-language bit of theatre which, in Los Angeles Opera’s production that opens tonight, proves to be a thoroughly approachable experience. There is very much to admire and enjoy, regardless of whether one is an operatic veteran or novice.
Most of all, it’s funny. Truly funny, with that special brand of wry humor the British seem to possess in droves. In this case, the shy, unassuming Albert is unexpectedly chosen as May Day Festival king when it is decided that the girls of the town are a little too, um, worldly (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more). ”Want virgins, not trollops!” declares Loxford grande dame, Lady Billows (don’t we all). Then someone decides to spike King Albert’s May Day punch, he sows his proverbial wild oats, and the rest is comic history.
Once again, I was asked to occupy one of the LA Opera’s “tweet seats” at their final dress rehearsal, and as such, was highly encouraged to share my thoughts on the whole experience. I’ll post about the night’s tweet seat particulars later, but for now, a review of the performance:
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