Albert Herring, the fourth Indiana University Opera production of the school year, is a new show for IU and I’m hoping it will be staged again. This opera, written by Benjamin Britten, features Albert Herring, played by Asitha Tennekoon, as a pure, sinless man who has followed his strict mother’s rules his entire life. He is elected to be the King of May (a gender reversal for the usually female monarch of the month) for his demonstrations of purity. Albert is encouraged to accept this position by his mother, who is attracted to the promise of a large reward. However, Albert is left reconsidering his pure way of life. The May celebration has awakened him to the fact that he has never had any fun. Albert’s friends entertain a similar line of thought and proceed to sneak some rum into Albert’s drink at the celebration. He then disappears and is roundly feared to be dead, only for Albert to return home happy and tired, explaining he had gone to a pub, started a fight and that he no longer wanted to be tied down.
Albert Herring was a riot. The cast executed their parts very well with exquisite performances by Catherine O’Rourke and Tony Arnold. All night, joke after joke, the audience were enjoying themselves. The humor was very modern, with anachronistic jokes or Meta references, such as when characters pulled out bubble gum or referenced the program for the production to find out information about other characters. Albert Herring, although much less well known than other operas performed by Jacobs, was just as entertaining as any I have seen yet. The Jacobs School of Music continues toconsistently put on incredible shows and although this was very different, it was just as entertaining as were past productions.