Albert Herring

Albert Herring at LA Opera


* Notes *
The fourth performance of Los Angeles Opera's Albert Herring (Act II Scene 1 pictured left, photograph by Robert Millard) on Sunday boasted a balanced ensemble cast and fine musicianship all around. Conducted by Maestro James Conlon, the playing in the pit sounded taut and clear. The horn only made one slight error, but otherwise sounded quite agreeable. The singers all seemed perfect for their roles, and distinct enough from one another in sound. The diction was clear.

Liam Bonner (Sid) and Daniela Mack (Nancy) made for a nice, youthful pair. The various pillars of society sang humorously together, or against one another, as need be. As Superintendent Budd, Richard Bernstein was warm in contrast to Robert McPherson's rather bright Mr. Upfold. Jonathan Michie sang nimbly as Mr. Gedge. Though Stacey Tappan's voice is pretty and bird-like, her Miss Wordsworth still managed to be convincing. Ronnita Miller's acting as Florence Pike was confident, and her singing hearty. Janis Kelly played Lady Billows with the right amount of self-importance and hysteria. Her cold, brilliant voice is piercing. As for Albert Herring himself, Alek Shrader seemed ideal, it is hard to imagine a more suitable tenor for this role. Shrader's voice is lovely.

The production, directed by Paul Curran, was first seen at Santa Fe Opera last summer. The set and costumes, designed by Kevin Knight, are charming and sweet. The use of supernumeraries to change the scenes in various cunning ways made for good laughs.

* Tattling * 
The performance was not particularly full. There was light talking in the Founders Circle, especially in the first half of the opera.

Albert Herring at Cal Performances

TheBrittenProject_AlbertHerring_01_Credit_F&ESchmidt * Notes * 
This weekend Cal Performances presented Castleton Festival's Albert Herring. The production involves much abuse of artificial fruit. It was particularly unsatisfying when the title character threw fake peaches against a Plexiglas window in Act II. The use of astroturf was, however, entertaining.

The cast, as with The Rape of Lucretia, boasted not a few lovely voices. The three children (Harry, Cis, and Emmie) were amplified, but sounded clean and pure in tone. Rachel Calloway was perfectly hysterical as Mrs. Herring. Adrian Kramer and Tammy Coll made for a funny, attractive pair as Sid and Nancy. Benjamin Bloomfield (Superintendent Budd), Tyler Nelson (Mr. Upfold), Alexander Tall (Mr. Gedge), Ashleigh Semkiw (Miss Wordsworth), and Kristin Patterson (Florence Pike) all acted and sang their roles with ease. Brian Z. Porter did well as Albert Herring, his diction was clear. Best of all was Nancy Gustafson as a very amusing Lady Billows. Her voice is luminous, flexible, and never shrill. The musicians, conducted by Lorin Maazel, played directly, but were a bit loud for the singers.

* Tattling * 
The audience members talked lightly, especially during overtures. There were a few watch alarms that sounded at each hour.

Santa Fe Opera's 2010 Season

July 2- August 26 2010: Madame Butterfly
July 3- August 27 2010: The Magic Flute
July 17- August 28 2010: The Tales of Hoffmann
July 24- August 19 2010: Life is a Dream
July 31- August 25 2010: Albert Herring

The 2010 season at Santa Fe Opera opens with Madame Butterfly with Kelly Kaduce singing the title role. Charles Castronovo sings Tamino in The Magic Flute. The season also includes the world premiere of Lewis Spratlan's Life is a Dream with Leonard Slatkin conducting. Former Adler Fellow Alek Shrader is singing the role of Albert Herring, with Christine Brewer as Lady Billows.

Season | Official Site

Merola's Albert Herring

Albert-herring-merola-2008-kl * Notes *
This evening the Merola Opera Program's Albert Herring opened with the first of two performances. The production, directed by Peter Kazaras, is charming. Donald Eastman's sets are clever and use the small space well. The lighting design from Kate Boyd is nice and simple. Though the opera was originally set at the turn of the 20th century, this production seems to inhabit a time closer to when the opera was written. For example, Wendy Lynn's lovely costumes were from the 1930s or 40s rather than the Victorian era. The only real compliant I have about the production has to do with Act III, when most of the characters are lamenting the apparent death of Albert. Some of the singers open umbrellas inside Herring's Green Grocer out of grief, which didn't seem well-motivated. Then the ensemble clumped up and started doing strange head-bobbles. At least they were more or less together.

Mark Morash conducted the dozen orchestra members well, and they sounded crisp for the most part. The cello and viola solos were particularly good. There were a few moments when the singers were not exactly with the orchestra, but these did not last long. Most noticeable were the claps of the children in Act I, they were not all on beat. In general, the children's voices were a bit cloying, one can only imagine that this was intentional.

The singing from the Merolini was impressive nearly across the board. Natasha Flores has both warmth and depth, she made the most of Mrs. Herring, and shone in Act III. Renée Tatum was funny as Nancy, her voice is pretty, and blended well with Darren Perry's clear-toned Sid. Benjamin LeClair made easy work of Mr. Budd, his volume was good and his voice is appealing. Tyler Nelson (Mr. Upfold) also sang with ease, his full tones were very pleasing. Eugene Chan was amusing as the vicar Mr. Gedge, though this role does not show his voice off, he sang well. Comely Ellen Wieser looked elegant, her voice was unpleasantly shrill, but this was not inappropriate for a neurotic schoolmarm. Nicole Birkland had her vibrato under control as beleaguered Florence Pike and Kate Crist was hilarious as Lady Billows. Crist has beautiful low notes but her high notes are somewhat harsh. James Benjamin Rodgers was utterly delightful in the title role. He acted well and his resonant voice was a joy to hear.

As for the actual opera, I enjoyed the various comical lines. I was especially taken when Florence Pike sang Act I's "Doctor Jessop's midwife," which has the word brain in it, not something that is normally in a libretto. I nearly had a hysterical fit when Albert sang "Albert the Good" in Act II Scene 2, as he sings the words "Albert the sheep" and also mentions guinea pigs and pastries.

* Tattling *
The audience was not too bad, no watch alarms or cellular phones were noted. There was talking during the orchestral parts, I had to hush the couples both behind and in front of me during the Act II overture, despite the fact that we just had an intermission.

A woman in the production crew, I assume it was the costumer Wendy Lynn, wore Stop Staring's Pleats Dress in an eggplant shade. Her gloves, hat, and stole were charming with it, but one is not quite sure about fur in summer.