Buxton’s Albert Herring Brings Out the Humour and Softens Britten’s Harsh Chords

11/07/2017

Buxton Festival 2017 [2] – Britten. Albert Herring: Soloists, Buxton Festival Chorus, NCO Festival Orchestra / Justin Doyle (conductor), Buxton Festival 2017, Opera House, Buxton, 8.7.2017. (RJF)

2.Albert-Herring-Jeffrey-Lloyd-Roberts-John-Molloy-Mary-Hegarty-Yvonne-Howard-Nicholas-Merryweather.-Credit-Robert-Workman

Buxton Festival 2017’s Albert Herring (c) Robert Workman

Cast:

Mr Upfold – Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts
Mr Gedge – Nicholas Merryweather
Albert Herring – Bradley Smith
Superintendent Budd – John Molloy
Lady Billows – Yvonne Howard
Florence Pike – Lucy Schaufer
Mrs Herring – Heather Shipp
Miss Wordsworth – Mary Hegarty
Sid – Morgan Pearse
Nancy – Kathryn Rudge
Cis – Bonnie Callaghan
Harry – Nicholas Challier (sung from the pit by Charlotte Trepess)
Emmie – Sophie Gallagher
The Stranger – Simeon John-Wake

Production:

Director – Francis Matthews
Designer – Adrian Linford
Lighting: Designer – Mike Gunning
Choreographer – Simeon John-Wake

Britten’s chamber opera, it might even be called a comic opera, is based on a libretto by Eric Crozier who adapted a story by Maupassant about the goings on in a village when the May Queen has to be chosen. The formidable lady Billows, and her committee of local bigwigs, have deemed the proposed candidates as unsuitable and a stalemate ensued. The impasse is resolved by a break with tradition and the election of a May King if a suitable, chaste, young man can be found. The greengrocer’s son, Albert Herring is chosen.

If the Macbeth production staging was minimalist and dark (review click here), Adrian Linford’s was bright and simple with Mrs. Herring’s shop, in which Albert serves the customers, being simple and the door entrance mainly representational with the Act II change to the church being flown as a simple shape. It all worked a treat and designer Adrian Linford deserves special mention alongside director Francis Matthews.

Its seems invidious to pick out names in a large cast, but there were some outstanding interpretations and characterful singing, not always easily achieved in the context of Britten’s orchestration. Veterans such as Yvonne Howard and Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts were formidable in their acting, and vocally as well. The same can be said of Lucy Schaufer as the formidable organizer of everything and everybody. As Albert, the sexually repressed virgin and immaculately well-behaved son of a dominant and over protective mother, who finds himself projected into fame, and the monetary prize, Bradley Smith’s interpretation is a masterly vocal and acted portrayal. How much of Britten’s convoluted psyche comes out in his writing for this role can only be conjectured. But one could only be admiring of Smith’s playing of the role as Albert vacillated and then went and enjoyed himself and grew up is masterful. Albert’s mother’s worry as to his whereabouts and well being got good playing and singing from Heather Shipp with her Act II solo coming to mind.

Sid and Nancy, the lover canoodlers who spike Albert’s drink, were exceptionally well matched with her vocal quality very much to the fore. Noteworthy also was John Molloy as something of a bumbling over officious Superintendent Budd and Mary Hegarty’s characterful portrayed spinster. The only thing that grated for me was the presence of an extraneous dancer who mimicked Albert and supposedly represented his dilemmas. Money wasted I suggest as well as a too-frequent distraction.

The opera can be seen again on Wednesday 12, Saturday 15 and Saturday 22 July at 7.15pm and on Wednesday 19 July at 2.30pm.

 Robert J Farr

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H