Albert Herring (1947)

by Benjamin Britten

With an intoxicating confection of daft village characters and the sweetest, most confused hero in opera, Britten’s witty, effervescent comedy skewers small-town pomposity and slyly illumines the charms and trials of life in a goldfish bowl. Albert Herring is an exuberant satire, a scrumptious, slightly skewed slice of life.  In English, accompanied by piano, harp and percussion.

Britten’s great comic chamber opera in a new production that places the action just before World War II.

2017 Production Photos

Creative Team

conductor: Nicholas Gilmore
stage director: David Mosey
collaborative pianist: Danbee Ko
stage manager: Patricia Vinluan
assistant stage manager: Liz
vocal and diction coach: Lucy Hayes-Davis
set designer and props: Wyatt Macdougall
costumer: Marilyn McLaren
harpist: Ellen Gibling
percussionist: Trevor Brandenburg

 

Performance Dates and Times

Performances at Sir James Dunn Theatre at the Dal Arts Centre, 6101 University Avenue, Halifax
(dates and times subject to change)
Saturday, August 5, 7:30 pm
Tuesday, August 8, 7:30 pm
Friday, August 11, 7:30 pm
Sunday, August 13, 2:00 pm

Tickets

Tickets for Albert Herring are $30 for general admission, $20 for student (aged 13 to university) and $5 for children under 13.  Tickets are available in advance online from TicketHalifax.com, in person at The Coast offices, and by phone with credit card at (902)-422-6278 ex. 500. Our box office opens outside the Sir James Dunn Theatre at the Dal Arts Centre from one hour before show time, and any remaining tickets are available to purchase then. At the door we accept cash, cheques and Visa/MasterCard. For more details about buying tickets, see our Ticket Information Page.

Cast List

ALBERT HERRING by BrittenSaturday August 5, 7:30 pm
Friday August 11, 7:30 pm
Tuesday August 8, 7:30 pm
Sunday August 13, 2:00 pm
Lady BillowsAbigail Veenstra (ON)Giulianna Misasi (ON)
Florence PikeSarah Klapman (ON)Grace McKinnon (USA)
Miss WordsworthBrenna Robins (ON)Alison Petten (NL)
Vicar GedgeIan Green (NS)Jordan Gracie (NS)
Mayor UpfoldAndrew Dernyk (ON)Lucas Kuipers (ON)
Superintendant BuddThomas Brosky (NS)Thomas Brosky (NS)
Albert HerringTayte Mitchell (AB)Nolan Kehler (MB)
Mrs HerringSusan Moore (England) Adrienne Deering (NL)
SidDylan Evans (USA)Dylan Evans (USA)
NancyZoë Gotziaman (ON)Katherine Flynn (ON)
EmmieAbigail Sinclair (NS)Abigail Sinclair (NS)
CissieOliva MacGowan (NS)Oliva MacGowan (NS)
HarryWilliam Dyer (NS)William Dyer (NS)

Synopsis of Albert Herring

Act I begins in Lady Billows’ English country mansion, where the upper class Loxford elites cannot find a virtuous and chaste girl deserving of the May Queen title and the accompanying £25 prize (“Is this all you can bring?”). They decide to crown a May King instead and choose to honor Albert Herring, the greengrocer’s son, for his innocence and spotless behavior (“May King! Remarkable position”).

In Act I, Scene 2, we meet the lower classes of Loxford in and around the Herrings’ greengrocer shop.  Albert’s reputation as a hard-working and innocent young man proves accurate, and his friend Sid teases him for his inexperience (“Tickling a trout”). After Albert sees Sid openly seducing Nancy, Sid’s lover, in the privacy of the Herrings’ shop, Albert begins to fantasize about trying a more rebellious life. When Lady Billows and her entourage come to congratulate Albert on being chosen as May King, Mrs. Herring is thrilled, but Albert dreads being singled out for his innocence that makes him the laughing stock of the town (“We bring great news to you”).

In Act II, Scene 1, three weeks have passed and May Day has finally arrived.  Florence and Nancy hurry to finish setting up for the town feast, but Sid is late bringing the meat. After Florence leaves, Sid gives Nancy a cynical account of the somber church service happening in town, where the Vicar is preaching on “Living Chaste For the Hereafter” (“Churchyard’s agog with a crowd of folk”). Nancy can tell that Sid has an idea for making mischief. Sid leaves with Nancy to finish setting up and to relate the plan to her, as the town’s children come in with Miss Wordsworth to practice their song for Albert.  When Sid and Nancy return to serve lemonade for the feast, Sid spikes Albert’s lemonade with rum.  Soon after, Albert, Lady Billows, Mrs. Herring, and the town elites arrive in the May Day tent with a grand fanfare and special greetings from the children.  Lady Billows begins the festivities with a grand welcome that turns into a passionate sermon warning Loxford’s youth against immorality (“I’m full of happiness”).  The other elites each make speeches in Albert’s name and shower him with gifts they find appropriate, to which Albert can barely muster up the courage to thank them.  The ceremony ends with a toast to Albert and to Lady Billows (“Albert the good!”). Albert drains his cup of spiked lemonade, which gives him hiccups.  Once the speechifying ends, the feast begins.

Scene 2, after the festivities, an inebriated Albert returns home, though he is not ready for bed. He is reliving the events of the day in his mind, and wonders why Nancy was acting so strangely towards him at the feast (“Why did she stare”). Suddenly Albert hears whistling from outside.  Sid is calling for Nancy outside her window, and Albert spies on the couple from the shop when Nancy comes out into the street.  By listening to their conversation, Albert discovers that Sid slipped rum into his drink.  After he sees the lovers caressing and kissing in the street (“Come along, darling”), Albert cannot bear the yoke of his chastity any longer. Albert sets off towards London for a night on the town, just missing his mother as she comes home.

The next morning, in Act III, the town is buzzing after discovering Albert’s disappearance. Nancy, worried for Albert’s safety, regrets assisting Sid in his scheme to intoxicate Albert (“What would Missus Herring say?”).  Mrs. Herring, utterly distraught and convinced Albert must be dead, keens over the one photograph she has of her son (“Have you found him?”).  When the police find Albert’s May Day wreath run over in the road, Mrs. Herring and the townspeople believe this evidence confirms Albert’s death (Threnody—“In the midst of life is death”).  Albert finally returns, and when the town elites demand to know where Albert had been, he confidently relates his night of drunken debauchery “and worse.” Lady Billows and Mrs. Herring are appalled, but Albert pays them no mind and resumes his work.  Sid, Nancy, and the children welcome Albert back and say he is “better for his holiday” from chastity.  With his newfound self-assurance, Albert triumphs over the societal constraints that bound him for so long by coming to terms with his desires.

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