Music in Durham

Albert Herring

Samling Academy Albert Herring
Alex Banfield and Ana Fernandez Guerra

I’m a little disappointed that this year I won’t be able to make it to Miranda Wright’s Samling Academy Opera production – they’re doing Britten’s comic opera Albert Herring and having seen Miranda’s previous two productions at the Sage (Marriage of Figaro and Dido and Aeneas), I can guarantee it will be a really entertaining evening. Alex Banfield plays the title role – I’ve only seen him previously in a very brief appearance as one of Mr Noye’s sons in the Durham Singers Noye’s Fludde but he flung himself into that with lots of energy, and he has a great voice.

Claire Tunney plays the role of the imperious Mrs Billows, with Charlotte Heslop as her housekeeper Florence Pike – I really enjoyed Claire’s Cherubino in Figaro and Charlotte is a brilliant comic actress; it would be worth seeing the production just to see these two together.

I don’t know the opera itself, but reading the plot synopsis it sounds great fun. It’s an adaptation of a short story by Maupassant and is about an innocent young boy who is crowned King of the May due to the lack of any suitably virginal girls in the village, but who then blows his prize money on a debauched night out. Add Britten’s skilful musical characterisation and wit, and it sounds like a recipe for a lot of fun.

There’s more information on the Samling website – go, even if you think you don’t like Britten.  And from me, I hope it goes well, and I’m sorry I won’t be there (I’ll be swanning around in the Bavarian alps drinking weissbier. It’s a hard life).



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