Comedy in an opera show is pure music to the ears, mixed with many laughs as well.
“Albert Herring,” now playing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles, is an English comic opera questioning and challenging some of the central moral values inherent in our lives. It details events regarding the only virgin left in a tiny English town – it is sung in English, too, which is a plus.
Conducted by James Conlon and directed by Paul Curran (in his L.A. Opera debut), “Albert Herring” features Alek Shrader as Albert Herring (also in his L.A. Opera debut). Shrader is a perfect fit for the character, who is timid and eager for his first sexual experiences.
Much comedic relief is provided by Florence Pike, the housekeeper of Lady Billows (Janis Kelly). Pike, played by Ronita Nicole Miller, gives an unforgettable acting and singing performance. The entire audience laughed uproariously at every scene she appeared in. Miller’s theatrical charisma is truly exceptional.
But despite all the figures in the plot, Herring’s virginal history is the real essence of this opera. He has become the symbol for everything Lady Billows, an elderly aristocrat, preaches as ideal morals for the town. But in the end, that changes. Does Herring give into temptation and loose his virginity? You’ll just have to see for yourself what is one of the best endings I have ever seen in a theatrical performance.
Overall, the cast is relatively young, but they all can deliver original opera singing and above par acting displays. With intermission, the running time of the performance reaches nearly three hours in its three acts.
“Albert Herring” is a comic explosion for the opera.
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