THE NIGHT OF THE LUMINARIES by Wis Jablonski
On the night of 1st September 2016 I have attended a lecture on the subject of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring. Actually, it has been more like sharing an experience of ‘how to stage it’ rather than the lecture.
Based on the short story by Guy de Maupassant’s Le rosier de Madame Husson and the libretto by Eric Crozier, Britten (Baron Britten of Aldeburgh) has composed a comic opera in three acts, a masterpiece full of lampoon, allusions and laments on the lost innocence.
The Head of Opera and the celebrated English conductor, Nicholas Cleobury introduced his production team and members of the cast. With a surgical precision Maestro Cleobury dissected Britten’s opus and by doing so he opened my “eyes” on some aspects of Britten’s musical nuances.
And there is more: Alfred Herring is to be directed by the Master of the Silver Screen – Bruce Beresford himself.
Our audience has been introduced to the intricacies of the production; on the stage and behind it. The designers, Felicity Abbott and Wendy Cork, and the lighting engineer Nigel Levings talked about transforming the stage into the beginning of the 20th century’s small town of Loxford in Suffolk. The old pictures, photographs and other references have been used to create a true feel of the era. Dr David Ellison, Reader in English gave us his impressions on the Maupassant story and how it was transplanted from a small town in Normandy to the small town in England; not an easy task. To give us a taste of the performance two excerpts were produced by the lively team of nine young ladies and gentlemen conducted, of course, by Maestro Cleobury. What a treat !
After the official part was completed I have had the opportunities to mix with the principals and the rest of the staff. I had a very cordial chat with Bruce Beresford, director I have admired for his work, especially in the movies such as Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy and Mao’s Last Dancer.
The hero of Mao’s Last Dancer – Lu Cunxin is Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet since 2012.
I have also used my physicist’s knowledge and discussed the phenomenon of synaesthesia with the costume designer, ,Wendy Cork. We had fun.
Another surprise; lovely Liz Tupas, BDO-Arts of Conservatorium
introduced me to Nicholas Cleobury.
I’ve found out that Maestro Cleobury had been conducting among others, the musical pieces by my two Polish favourable composers: Witold Lutoslawski (1913 - 1994) and Krzysztof Penderecki (b.1933). We exchanged a few anecdotes of a musical nature and he has got a treasure chest of those.
What a great guy; we are so lucky we have him as the Head of Opera; hopefully for a long time.
Albert Herring Opera is a part of the Brisbane Festival and it will be staged only a few times. We, Friends of the Opera secured 10 double passes, courtesy of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. The details are on the home page. Please take this opportunity and be part of this great performance. You will be enthralled. I also look forward to see “ALBERT” in our programme for 2017 with Glyndebourne excellent production from 1985 with Bernard Haitink conducting.