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Albert Herring film streaming on OperaVision

Opera North’s charming and immersive recent production of Benjamin Britten’s comic opera Albert Herring is available to stream online for free for 6 months from Friday 21 June.

In Britten’s wry examination of social mores, May Day is looming, and the small town of Loxford is in chaos. All the potential May Queens are deemed morally unsuitable. Desperate, the locals decide a May King will have to do instead. They choose the blameless Albert Herring (Dafydd Jones), from the greengrocers. He isn’t keen, but stuck firmly under his mother’s thumb, he’ll do what he is told. However, after one rum-laced lemonade at the May Day ceremony, Albert disappears, and even greater chaos ensues.

The opera’s librettist Eric Crozier took a story by Maupassant and transformed it into a quintessentially English comedy. Britten’s music characterises the town’s inhabitants with a biting satirical wit – but there’s a touch of affection, too, for a vanished way of life.

Richard Mosley-Evans as Superintendant Budd and Dafydd Jones as Albert Herring © Tom Arber

Conducted by Music Director Garry Walker, the opera was filmed live in the Howard Assembly Room, Opera North’s chamber performance space in the heart of Leeds. Director Giles Havergal’s 2013 production updates the opera’s setting to 1947, the time of its original premiere, perfectly capturing a world on the cusp of social change.

Created as a site-specific work to be performed in-the-round in the Howard Assembly Room, it returned to the venue in January 2024 for a sell-out run. The intimacy of the venue brings the audience, performers and cameras thrillingly up-close, creating a magically immersive film of the opera, directed by Alex Ramseyer-Bache.

Katie Bray as Nancy © Tom Arber

A true ensemble opera, Albert Herring features a top-notch British cast of actor-singers including rising star Welsh tenor Dafydd Jones as Albert, Katie Bray as Nancy and Dominic Sedgewick as Sid, with Judith Howarth as the formidable Lady Billows and able comic support from Heather Shipp as the housekeeper Florence Pike, William Dazeley as the vicar, Mr Gedge, Amy Freston as the schoolteacher Miss Wordsworth, Paul Nilon as the mayor, Mr Upfold, Richard Mosley-Evans as the hapless Superintendent Budd, and Claire Pascoe as Albert’s mother, Mrs Herring.

“This production exemplifies Opera North’s tradition of innovation – in this case reconfiguring a repertoire classic in an intimate environment,” said Laura Canning, General Director, Opera North. “It’s an enchanting piece which couches its subject of small-town morality as both satire and nostalgia, with some of the most believable characters – and caricatures – of any operatic work.”

Albert Herring is available to watch online for free in partnership with OperaVision and can be viewed from 6pm on Friday 21 June.

Watch the film


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