This piece and its composer hold special significance for me, and I would like to share what may seem like some random reasons why – so please bear with me.
1) I have been a confirmed anglophile for more years than I can remember. The first phase of this culminated in a year of post-graduate study in London. It was only after studying there that I learned from my parents (I am adopted) that I am actually half English – this certainly explained why they had been so supportive of me going there to study.
2) The old “six degrees of separation” reason. One of my teachers, John Shirley-Quirk, sang in most of Britten’s important premieres from the mid-sixties on, so I feel that I am connected to that tradition closely. In addition, I had the privilege of singing for and getting to spend some time with tenor Peter Pears (the original Albert Herring, and Britten’s life partner).
3) I had the pleasure of singing the role of Sid in Albert Herring, directed by my directing mentor Roger Stephens, who passed away recently. This fact gives this opera added poignancy for me.
4) David Lloyd, the long time General Director of Lake George Opera, was one of my predecessors at my last company before coming to the Florentine. He sang the title role of Albert in the American premiere at Tanglewood in 1949. He also passed away recently, so these performances have added significance for me in that way as well.
Even without the above reasons, I would love this piece, because of all of its intrinsic value as a piece of music theatre. Indeed, I believe it to be one of the, if not the best comic opera of the 20th century. I believe this because, just like those other great operatic comedies – Falstaff, The Marriage of Figaro (our next opera), and Die Mesitersinger, the comedy is infused with and informed by, real human emotion. Comedy is able to speak to the human condition in a way that tragedy is often not able.
For video excerpts and comment from the director click here.