Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stars Align for "Albert Herring" at Union Avenue Opera

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stars Align for "Albert Herring" at Union Avenue Opera

Article excerpt

As they did last year for "Doubt," the stars have aligned once again for Union Avenue Opera's 2017 season, which opened Friday night.

This time the opera is Benjamin Britten's hilarious "Albert Herring," the story of a shy, naive boy in a British village, tied too closely to his mother's apron strings.

He is chosen to be the "May King" by a self-important committee that could not find a suitably innocent girl.

To the horror of the committee, he uses his prize money to go on a bender.

Everybody thinks he has died, but in the midst of their mourning, a disheveled but triumphant Albert reappears to celebrate his coming-out.

The head of the committee, the haughty Lady Billows, is played by St. Louis' own homegrown celebrity, soprano Christine Brewer. This is someone who has sung at many of the great opera venues of the world and has made over 25 recordings with major conductors.

And that success is the product of an athletic voice that is clear as a bell and can fill an auditorium effortlessly. Add to that her excellent acting chops, her outgoing personality and her knack for comedy and you have the full package a superbly talented international superstar.

She alone would be worth the price of admission, and you would expect her to stand out from the crowd.

However, "Albert Herring" is mostly an ensemble work where, when you add it all up, just about every character has roughly equal stage time.

And the good news is that everyone in the ensemble could be called a star as well, all of them in their unique ways meeting the high level of proficiency exhibited by the headliner.

Tenor David Walton brought just the right blend of sheepishness and mischievousness to the title role with a vocal quality that fit the character.

Janara Kellerman as his overbearing mother had a voice and a swagger even bigger than Brewer's, which made Albert's submission to her thumb totally understandable. …

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