Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (5)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GEM OF A PERFORMANCE, 29 Oct 2005
By 
Klingsor Tristan (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This is a performance of Albert Herring in the opera house for which it was conceived. That first performance was nearly sixty years ago now and, in the wrong production, Eric Crozier's comedy can feel a bit arch and dated these days, even if Britten's musical wit stands up a little better. Let's face it, Albert is a wimp and one night's binge drinking (pace Mr. Blair) ain't necessarily going to change that. What's more - again in the wrong hands - Loxford can end up as a village entirely populated by caricatures, real E.F.Benson Land.
Sir Peter Hall's, however, are the right hands. Maybe it's because he's an East Anglian boy himself and remembers these people, maybe it's just his wealth of theatrical experience, but he never allows his singers to overact or indulge in sending their characters up. The humour in these characters works best if they're left to hang themselves. So the Vicar mouths his platitudes with total conviction; the Mayor, a mere tradesman, struggles to maintain his dignity among his social superiors; the school-teacher is desperate for praise and for people to see how much good influence she has had over her pupils, past and present; the intimidating Lady Billows is here more a character from Saki than from Punch. Most importantly, in the last act everyone takes the presumed death of Albert absolutely seriously. His Mum (Patricia Kern) really becomes a moving, almost tragic figure in her loss. The wonderful Threnody is played, acted and sung straight and works all the better for it. It's only when Albert himself bursts in on the end of it that the retrospective irony becomes clear. Before that, it is as it should be - a genuinely moving moment.
Britten's music is wonderfully inventive and genuinely witty. He was always a master of pastiche (think of the Frank Bridge Variations or the Pyramus & Thisbe play in the Dream - or, in more serious vein, his assimilation of the Balinese gamelan in The Prince of the Pagodas and the Russian Kontakion in the Third Cello Suite). In Albert Herring you'll find witty send-ups of vacuous hymn-tunes that perfectly match Mr. Gedge's platitudes, of Victorian drawing-room ballads ('Is Albert virtuous...'), not to mention the wry Tristan spoofs as Albert drinks his 'potion' or wallows in his tipsy 'dementia' back home afterwards. But you'll also find masses of examples of Britten's ability to conjure magic from his limited group of instrumentalists. The Interlude between the Mayday Festival and Albert's tipsy arrival home, for example, is another of those uniquely evocative Britten nocturnes, comparable with those in The Rape of Lucretia before it and The Turn of the Screw after - the flute turns the horn's brash fanfare from the Festival into a beautiful starlit rhapsody, and the other woodwind combine to magical effect. Throughout, Bernard Haitink is at the helm of his London Philharmonic soloists and singers, producing as great a sense of ensemble in the musical performance as Sir Peter Hall does in the acting. Among all his other attributes, Haitink is a fine if unsung conductor of Britten's music (witness his Peter Grimes), continuing a tradition among Concertgebouw conductors and bringing a refreshing foreigner's perspective to this English music much as he has for Vaughan Williams' symphonies.
All the singers fully live up to their conductor's and director's demands. Outstanding among the village dignitaries are Hammond-Stroud's Vicar (demonstrating, as he always did, that it is possible to combine precise diction with a firm musical line and strong characterisation) and Elizabeth Gale's fluttering Miss Wordsworth. Felicity Palmer has provided us with many great performances late in her career (Klytemnestra, Fricka, Madame de Croissy, etc.). As Florence Pike here, she catches perfectly the social ambitions and frustrations of Lady Billows' housekeeper. Patricia Johnson as her Ladyship is much more than a figure of fun: her notions of good deeds and her prurience drive her to ride roughshod over anyone that gets in her way: she is a really intimidating figure and she sings the part even better than the great Sylvia Fisher. But the cornerstone of this performance is John Graham-Hall's definitive Albert. This was never one of Pears' better parts - while written, as ever, ideally for his voice, the character never really suited him. Graham-Hall catches it all, the wide-eyed innocence, the frustrations, the sexual ache, the defiance and the final triumph as he dispenses Mum and even Lady Billows on their way. Maybe he did steal Nancy away from Sid in the end. And his singing is excellent, too, whether in recitative or in Albert's yearning lyrical phrases ('It seems as clear as clear can be...'). His tipsy scene in the shop after his Coronatium is a triumph.
Hall directs his own production for TV with an admirable focus on character. He is confident enough in his singers' acting abilities to use a lot of close-up. The sets are ideal (Lady Billows' front room bears an uncanny resemblance to Glyndebourne's Organ Room) and the lighting suitably atmospheric whether sunny or rainy, daytime or nightime. If I have one criticism it is that the recorded balance is a bit singer-heavy, sometimes drowning Britten's magical instrumentation. Nevertheless, this is a gem of a performance and highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Albert the Good - Long May he Reign!, 30 Jan 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
I saw this one on telly many many years ago. And then a touring version of it somewhere like the Queen Elizabeth Hall ... I loved it then, and it's a joy to have it available on DVD. This is a superb production of a work that can best be described as joyous - and, let's face it, not all Britten's operas have such lighthearted subjects.

Here is no tortured fisherman, here is no Roman matron ravished by a randy soldier, here is no spine-chilling yarn of corrupted innocence ... What we have here is a delicious fable of a greengrocer's henpecked son desperate to lose his cherry, and with no idea how to go about it ... until - but that would be telling.

Everything about this opera is just about perfect: Eric Crozier's hilarious libretto is the perfect complement to the infinitely witty and often sublime score, and the two elements combine to create a whole that is as rich in minutely-observed characterisation and invention as anything by Mozart and Da Ponte. How a well-known critic could denounce the piece as 'that ghastly little work' beats me.

Add to the mix that the production has Sir Peter Hall at the helm, and it really can't lose.
The excellent singers, all of them well-established on the opera stage, can all act, and - most importantly - can all play high comedy without a suspicion of self-consciousness. Their director has the good sense to put this combination of talents to the fullest and best possible use.

This is ensemble work of the very best quality, with John Graham-Hall's innocent Albert a bit of tousle-haired eye-candy that would no doubt have appealed to the composer. Britten would also surely have enjoyed this performance very much, and it is a great shame that he did not live long enough to see it.

Thoroughly recommended. It is eccentric Englishness at its musical best. A treat.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Good production., 17 Feb 2014
By 
John Ayton "London_e3" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
I didn't see this production at Glyndebourne, but on tour at Sadler's Wells with Sir Peter Hall sat directly in front of me. His production brings out all of the humour of the opera and the audience were frequently laughing and I mean proper laughter not just the polite tittering that one usually gets from the opera cognoscenti. This really helps the piece along and makes the pathos and tender moments of the opera work better than they might. Of course Britten has written the majority of the townsfolk as rather broad caricatures, although Hall and his cast work hard and succeed in making them fully fleshed out people. Albert, His mother and Nancy carry the emotional weight of the piece. This production was filmed at Glyndebourne for which the original was conceived and it works wonderfully well. Haitink conducts with both relish for the comedy and sensitivity. The British cast is superb with John Graham-Hall's Albert the rock upon which the piece rests.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Britten opera?, 15 Feb 2014
By 
Iain C. Davidson "iain1825" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Whenever I watch or listen to 'Albert Herring' I find myself thinking that it may be my favourite of Britten's operas (usually its 'Turn Of The Screw'). The libretto is genuinely funny as are the clutch of Loxford worthies and there is something really sympathetic about Albert himself, pitted against his virago of a Mum - although I still feel sorry for her at the start of Act 3! The score is quite an extraordinary mix. There are children's songs, romantic duets, passages of Berg-esque shouting and a passionate solo for Albert. My favourite comedic passages are the gloom-laden meeting at Lady Billows' house to discuss potential May Queen candidates ('Ive heard tales from Mr Budd about them both'...'BOTH of them?') and the grandiose chords as Billows and co sweep in and out again of the Herring shop to announce their glad tidings. I also love all the fluttery music for Miss Wordsworth!

This is the only DVD performance of the opera available so far but its hard to imagine anything better coming along. Peter Hall's production is surely perfect and the cast are fantastic. Only a crisper picture would improve things. I suspect that the part of Lady Billows must be a horrendous sing but Patricia Johnson is terrific and acts it so well too. The other worthies are spot on and the young John Graham Hall is as good an Albert as you're ever likely to get. As an added bonus, there's the luscious-voiced young Jean Rigby as Nancy!

In short, I can't recommend this enough - its brilliant!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 29 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Really interesting production, and we enjoyed watching it for comparison after having recently seen a brilliant opera north performance live
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Musically and production superb but why in NTSC and DD?, 6 Nov 2005
By 
Dr. Peter J. Mckenzie (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This is a superb performance of which I also have the PAL VHS and which has good colour and well above average HiFi stereo. I am thinking of the incredible difference between some of the BBC/ Glyndebourne DVDs: eg Queen of Spades: the US DVD- NTSC DD - not too bad and theUK PAL LPCM DVD, probably the best opera DVD performance, picture and audio I have seen. I have both versions as the Region 1 version was issued many, many months before the Region 2. I saw this live. It was the last note of music played in the old hall and of course, there was no room for cameras at the live performances, which means that this performance has the most perfect audio balance and production. There, a review of another DVD entirely! I think for this time only I must recommend for Albert Herring; the PAL VHS - if you have a good working machine - but make a back-up DVD, for the genuine reason that the VHS deteriorates.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Albert Herring [DVD] [2011]
Albert Herring [DVD] [2011] by Glyndebourne Festival Opera (DVD - 2005)
£12.20
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews