Opened December 1996

Theatre: Manhattan School of Music; Libretto: Eric Crozier; Conductor: David Gilbert; Director: Chris Mattaliano; Production Stage Manager: Renee Rimland; Set Designer: Karen TenEyck; Costume Designer: Tracy Dorman; Lighting Designer: Joshua Starbuck; Producer: Gordon Ostrowski; Technical Director: Tyler Learned; Wigs & Make Up: Kristian Kraai
Cast: Lady Billows: Kirsten Dickerson; Florence Pike: Tara Venditti; Miss Wordsworth: Lynette Binford; Mr. Gedge: Scott Bearden; Mr. Upfold: James Powell; Superintendent Budd: Scott Altman; Sid: Samuel Hepler; Albert Herring: Christopher Pfund; Nancy: Nancy Maria Balach; Mrs. Herring: Barbara Kokolus; Emmie: Christina Sayers; Cis: Jordon S. Rathus; Harry: Jon-Michael Tirado

Program Notes: "Albert Herring was written in 1947 as the first work for the newly formed English Opera Group, which was comprised of colleagues dedicated to the advancement of contemporary English opera. It was written specifically to be a comic companion piece to Britten's recently completed operatic tragedy, The Rape of Lucretia (1946), with each sharing a chamber opera format (reduced instrumentation, no chorus and physical portability). Together with Peter Grimes (1945), these represent an astounding creative period of three full-length operas in as many years, all of which are masterpieces of a type and all still very much in the repertory! The three works also share a theme that is central to many of Britten's works throughout his career, that of the individual at odds with the society in which s/he lives.

Librettist Eric Crozier fashioned his "coming of age" tale from Guy de Maupassant's short story, Le Rosier de Madame Husson (Madame Husson's May-King), essentially moving the scene of action from France (a small village near Paris) to an equally small village in East Suffolk (quite recognizable as a market town near where Britten lived and worked for so much of his life) and, more significantly, altering the ending. (Maupassant's principal character, Isidore, becomes a slave to alcohol and eventually dies of delirium tremens!)

Once the surface of what appears to be a rather inane story is scratched, however, implications of a much more serious and ambiguous nature are revealed. In this regard, Albert Herring has been compared to Mozarts Cosi Fan Tutte, as a representative of "serious comedy". Issues of turn-of-the-century social class struggles and Puritanism are raised together with more ageless and universal conflicts such as the "generation gap" and parent-child developing relationships."

-- Michael Sells

Read the synopsis
List of scene changes and notes

Click on an image to see more detail

PRODUCTION PHOTOS - The May King celebration (above); Mrs. Billows' country home; Mrs. Herring's Fruits & Vegetables; Closeup of shop

1/4" SCALE MODEL - Mrs. Billows' country home; Mrs. Herring's Fruits & Vegetables; The May King celebration


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