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'Albert Herring' hits all the right notes

Show Review

By Alison Block
On April 14, 2014

Would you like to laugh until your sides hurt? Or go home singing at the top of your lungs? If so, you must go see "Albert Herring," an opera being run this weekend by the Miami Opera group.

"Albert Herring" tells the hilarious tale of a virtuous young man who is, much to his dismay, held up as an example of strict morals in his small English town in the spring of 1900. Mayhem and misunderstandings ensue, resulting in three hours (with two intermissions) of pure entertainment and a grand plot twist.

President David Hodge called the opera terrific.

"I have a special fondness for music," he said. "This was great. I thought the sets were beautiful. The orchestra, I thought, was exceptional, and I loved the last act especially. The thing that impressed me was the maturity of the singers tonight. It just struck me. They projected themselves much older - or younger, depending on which one. I thought that was very impressive."

Hodge was spot-on in his review. The movable sets were extremely striking - staircases, dinner party, and a whole shop were convincingly brought to life on the stage of the Gates-Abegglen Theatre in the Center for the Performing Arts. The singing was nearly perfect and the characters were all portrayed wonderfully (my personal favorite was Lady Billows, brought to life by Kristen Whalen). And if you're worried about being able to understand opera - don't be. The singing was surprisingly clear and subtitles were conveniently provided on a screen above the stage. My favorite part, though, was the music. The pit orchestra was absolutely phenomenal - as a flutist myself, I greatly appreciated all the work the musicians put into the performance.

Director of Miami Opera and Conductor Benjamin Smolder was very pleased with the night's performance, a night that has been in the works since last October.

"I'm proud of the students," he said. "For them to master this score is really extraordinary, especially being so young. It's really a score that should be left to professionals, and I'm really proud of the job they gave."

"Albert Herring's" music was written by Benjamin Britten and the libretto (or story) by Eric Crozier. Benjamin Smolder conducted and Leland Kimball directed.

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