ALBERT HERRING BRINGS US LIFE IN A SMALL BRITISH TOWN

August 25, 2013

OPERA Albert_Herring_SW13_110

Opera Australia’s presentation of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, the last of the five operas making up the 2013 winter season, will see the winter season draw to a close at the end of August.

This delightful revival is being performed in celebration of Britten’s 100th birthday, in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House.  The performance runs for approximately three hours, with two 20 minute intervals.

Since its première at Glyndebourne in 1947, Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring has become a classic.  The libretto, by Eric Crozier, was based on Guy de Maupassant’s short story Le rosier de Madame Husson, but was transposed across the Channel.

The witty libretto and expressive score paints a picture of life in a small British town.  When the girls of Loxford are deemed too immoral to take the title of the village’s virtuous May Queen, the brilliant suggestion is made that they should elect a May King instead.  The hapless grocer’s boy, Albert, is put forward as the perfect example of modesty and good morals.  The shy local lad is thrust into the spotlight, but virtue is easily spoiled when Albert Herring’s mischievous friends enter the picture.  With the aid of some rum and a hefty cash prize, Albert reveals that he isn’t quite the shy lad that everyone assumed him to be.

Keeping us amused were Helpmann award winning performers, Kanen Breen as shy Albert Herring and Jacqueline Dark as Lady Billows, plus Samuel Dundas as the mischievous Sid and Conal Coad playing the pompous Superintendent Budd.

Opera Australia’s Music Director Anthony Legge conducts this original production by John Cox.

Opera Australia presents Albert Herring until 30 August 2013.

Sandra Tiltman 

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OPERA AUSTRALIA’S DELIGHTFUL DON PASQUALE

August 2, 2013

Don_Pasquale_SW13_339Set in the Rome of the early 1950s, around the time of the enchanting film Roman Holiday, Opera Australia’s winter season production of Don Pasquale, Donizetti’s celebrated comic opera, is delightful.  With its lyrical arias, warm and bright Italian street scenes, beautiful costumes and elegant sets complete with the latest in ultra chic 1950s furnishings, this opera is a visual treat.

One of Donizetti’s last operas, Don Pasquale is directed by Australian Roger Hodgman with designer Richard Roberts and lighting whiz Matt Scott.  Distinguished bass Conal Coad, with his well‐honed comedy and renowned vocal artistry, drives the action in the title role.  The versatile ensemble stars soprano Rachelle Durkin, tenor Ji‐Min Park and baritone Andrew Jones.  Don Pasquale is conducted by Guillaume Tourniaire, the former chief conductor of Prague State Opera.

The comic plot centres on Don Pasquale, an elderly miser, who takes it into his head to disinherit his uppity nephew Ernesto (in love with Norina) by marrying and producing an heir.  He asks his doctor to find him a suitable match.  A marriage contract is hastily drawn up by the cunning Dr Malatesta between Don Pasquale and Malatesta’s ‘sister’ (the disguised Norina of course).  With the ink barely dry, the shy and demure bride begins to create so much havoc that the groom is only too happy to pay to get rid of her.

Much merriment and misadventure ensues until the eventual reversal of fortune when Don Pasquale gives the young couple his blessing.

Sung in Italian, with English surtitles, Don Pasquale is performed in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House until Thursday 15 August 2013.    Sandra Tiltman