Friday, 19 October 2012

The original Sid and Nancy - ETO's Albert Herring

Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring, with the English Touring Opera reviewed by Claire Seymour (author of The Operas of Benamin Britten, 2007) in Opera Today.
"Labelled a “parable of oppression” by the late musicologist, Philip Brett, Britten’s provincial comedy, Albert Herring, is a tough nut to crack. A director has to make us laugh while also finding the darker kernel encased in an outer shell of light-hearted satire; to enjoy and celebrate its somewhat localised, even cliquish, nature, while also recognising the continuing relevance and wider frame of reference of its themes and inferences"

"The gait and mannerisms of Mark Wilde’s Albert, entering laden with boxes of vegetables, aptly conveyed the weight of the burden he bears. Wilde’s relaxed, expressive tenor affectingly revealed Albert’s loneliness. Kitted out in diamond-patterned grey sweater and afflicted by a nervous tic, his dramatic eloquence was touchingly at odds with his physical appearance. Wilde’s interpretation was never sentimental. He made it clear that Albert is not wholly innocent or pure, but that he understands his ridiculers’ double entrendres, and is troubled by feelings for which he has no opportunity of expressive outlet or satiation, nascent anger and rebellion."

"This production certainly did fulfil Rolls’ stated intention to “serve both its light and dark sides”. The Maupassant short story from which the libretto was drawn, is a much darker affair, its protagonist, Isidore, coming to a painful, tragic end: “Who knows, who can tell, what grim struggle raged in the Rose-king’s soul between the powers of good and evil?”, Maupassant’s narrator asks. Albert’s liberation is presented by Rolls as an unfailingly positive outcome. Initially incarcerated by his mother’s overpowering embrace and by his public reputation for an almost unnatural innocence, this Albert is now ready to face the world on his own terms, transformed and sustained by his knowledge of love." 

Read the whole review in Opera Today and catch forthcoming performances in  Exeter, Tunbridge Wells, Bath, Snape and Malvern. (details of the ETO tour here)

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