‘Albert Herring’ show a team effort
Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 21:01
The first thing that caught the eye upon entering the Jorgensen auditorium to see the opera, “Albert Herring,” was the pristine set. The stage was orderly and entirely white, giving an almost clinical feel to the whole event.
Though it was a Friday night, “Albert Herring” attracted a fairly large crowd. The demographics were quite varied, ranging from small children with their parents to older couples.
“I used to be part of the faculty,” Emeritus Professor Theodore Arm said, “So I wanted to support this program.”
The orchestra performing in the pit began tuning their instruments at precisely 7:30 p.m., as Voice Area Coordinator Dr. Constance Rock offered some opening words to the audience. After thanking them for braving the cold weather outside to see the show, she briefly described the work that went into the production of the opera.
“Truly,” she said, “It takes a village to bring an opera together.”
The actors filed onto the stage during an introductory piece by the orchestra. Dressed in costumes from various time periods, they brought color to the set.
The first scene depicted the Judy Bowers portrayed Florence Pike, who serves as housekeeper for the aristocratic Lady Billows. Florence is running ragged in her attempt to help her mistress run the May Day festival, during which a coveted position called Queen of the May will be selected. Lady Billows invites the four most important townspeople to her house to nominate the May Queen for the year, but Florence shoots down every one of their ideas—none of the women suggested are as pure as they appear.
As the list of nominees is exhausted, Superintendent Budd suggests crowning a May King for the year instead of a May Queen. He names a young Albert Herring as a candidate, and even Florence cannot come up with any arguments against his selection.
The next scene revealed what Albert’s life was truly like—he works as a greengrocer and feels stifled by his overbearing mother, overly cautious for fear of offending her. However, he is jealous of the free lives of his friends Sid and Nancy. With the prize money that he receives for being crowned the May King, he decides to indulge in a night of drunken debauchery. The town rejects him due to his newly discovered imperfections, but he no longer cares.
Britten’s style is complex, and throughout the performance numerous other operas are alluded to—for example, a line from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” was used satirically during a scene in which Albert is drunk and tongue-tied at his feast of honor. Though the production was somewhat hampered by the lack of supertitles, which are supposed to display the exact words that the actors are singing, the audience seemed to enjoy the performance tremendously.
“It was very good,” said