Opera Scotland

Albert Herring 2014St Andrews Opera

Read more about the opera Albert Herring

St Andrews Opera's offering this year is Benjamin Britten's comic masterpiece Albert Herring, conducted by Dr Michael Downes and directed by Tania Holland Williams. Almost as important, perhaps, is the fact that the St Andrews performances are the first of an opera in the Byre after its extended period of darkness. This beautiful building offers a near-perfect intimate performance space for works of this type.

The 13-piece professional band, led by Feargus Hetherington, gave an excellent performance, with the quintets of wind and strings in the pit, the piano in the wings stage left and harp and percussion stage right. This arrangement of musical forces worked well.

The design by Robin Peoples provided an elegant solution to the need for quick changes, with the three sets on a revolve. This was used occasionally to let us see events not necessarily illustrated in the music. The opening scene seemed a bit cramped when all the characters were squeezed on stage, but it was used to good comic effect. The contribution of that device became clearer after Albert's coronation, when every member of the cast had to be on stage simultaneously.

Costumes were updated to the 1950s, making references to golden sovereigns anachronistic. Perhaps this was so also when one of the girls was disqualified from becoming May Queen because her moral turpitude extended to showing a bit of ankle. Otherwise the concept worked well, and the quality of acting from the young cast was almost on a par with their generally excellent singing. There were some delightful touches in the staging, with anarchy never far away.

Albert himself, in the person of Laurie Slavin, was rightly the centre of the show. His tenor opened out excitingly as the extent of his liberation grew and he was ably supported by the lovely, natural performances of Sid and Nancy by Ted Haxby and Angharad Rowlands. Jemma Brown provided a majestic portrait of Lady Billows, while Florence and the other worthies all gave confidently differentiated performances.

It was good to see among the audience Ann Baird, who played Cis and sometimes Miss Wordsworth in many performances of the memorable Scottish Opera production which ran from 1969 to 1971.

Is Albert Herring actually Benjamin Britten's masterpiece? Read the argument here.

Don't miss your chance to see this enjoyable production.

Ticket prices at the Byre £14/£11 concessions/£5 students and under 26s from St Andrews Music Centre tel. 01334 462226

Beacon Arts Centre £14/£5 students and under-26s tel. 01475 723723

Perth Concert Hall £12.50 - £18.50 concessions available tel. 01738 621031

Performance Cast

Lady Billows an elderly aristocrat

Jemma Brown

Florence Pike housekeeper to Lady Billows

Hannah Holmes

Miss Wordsworth head teacher

Caroline Taylor

Mr Gedge the Vicar

Jonathan McNaul

Mr Upfold the Mayor

Chris Huggon

Superintendent Budd police officer

Niall Kennedy

Sid from the butcher's

Ted Haxby

Nancy from the baker's

Angharad Rowlands

Albert Herring from the greengrocer's

Laurie Slavin

Mrs Herring the greengrocer, Albert's mother

Heidi Innes

Emmie a schoolgirl

Olivia Clarke 2

Cis a schoolgirl

Rosie Hanlon

Harry a schoolboy

Robert Alexander Connolly Brown (Jun 15, 17, 28)

Freddie Clarke (June 16, 19)

Performance DatesAlbert Herring 2014

Map List

Byre Theatre | St Andrews

15 Jun, 19.30 16 Jun, 19.30 17 Jun, 19.30

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock | Greenock

19 Jun, 19.30

Perth Concert Hall | Perth

28 Jun, 19.30

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