Last night I was supposed to go see my friend, Molly, sing in the U of H’s production of Albert Herring, Britten’s comic opera which is also known as “Is that the one where that boy get’s away with it?” by my mother, who saw the production I was in at U of M. (The title character squanders money and prizes given to him by the town on alcohol and when caught he basically snubs his nose at them and the opera ends with all the adults waiting for a redemption that never comes, and if that isn’t Britten in a nut shell then I don’t know what is!) Needless to say it was too much for my Southern Baptist mother… maybe if she were a German-Jewish-Presbytarian-Southern Baptist like Jan’s mom it would have made a better impression? When I told her Baylor was doing it recently she just said: “WHAAAAT!??!!??”
My favorite quote was a response to a question from my friend, Kelley, who sat next to her for the show, and I think it perfectly encompasses a certain southern charm needed to navigate thorny situations:
Kelley: So, Mrs. Roberts, what did you think?! I knew nothing about it but I’m pretty sure it’s my new favorite opera.
Mom: WELL, it certainly seems like they did put a lot of hard work into it, doesn’t it!”
The runner up would have to be a conversation with my roommate, Lembit. For a little backstory, I played the role of the town Vicar.
Lembit: (Knowing that mom’s experience of opera didn’t involve the more chromatic, less “sweeping” melodies of Britten’s style.) Wasn’t it nice that Joseph had a lot of the pretty music in the show to mirror the music of hymns and church litergy?
Mom: Oh… that was the pretty music??
Now to be com.plete.ly fair my parents are amazingly supportive and have seen me in many many productions, from Puccini to Mozart to Smetana. If you know Britten, then you know that it is a different animal than its predecessors and isn’t the most easily accessible for the casual opera goer. I totally get that it’s probably not the easiest thing to sit through. These are more just anecdotal episodes I remember and think are funny.
ANYWAY… that being said, I didn’t actually get to go to the production last night, which really bummed me out because: A. I have been excited for months since I found out they were doing it and B. my friend Molly was in it and I absolutely love her voice and I imagine she was a fantastic Ms. Wordsworth. I got a text from Mallory, who was to join Jennifer and I:
Mallory: Hey, so I woke up feeling really clammy and I think I have a fever. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it tonight.
Me: Ugh, I was literally just thinking I might have a fever.
Mallory: Looks like we got sick together when you stayed over the other night :(
Sadly I wasn’t able to make it, but this is probably the only time for a while that I can retroactively post some pictures from our U of M production!
The Town Council: [L-R] Elizabeth Stoner, Miss Wordsworth; Brian Tanner, Mayor; Jonathan Christopher, Superintendant Bud; Jody Doktor, Lady Billows; Joseph, Vicar Gedge; Monique Holmes, Florence Pike
Artist: Benjamin Britten/ Album: Albert Herring