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Albert Herring, opera by Benjamin Britten

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I watched Albert Herring, an opera by Benjamin Britten, on Operavision, a great website that streams and archives operas from Europe. The opera premiered in 1947 with Britten's boyfriend/partner, Peter Pears, in the title role. It has always been clear that the gay Britten wrote the opera with a clear gay subtext, but it is not always played up. It is definitely played up in the Royal College of Music's production on the Operavision site. It's a comic opera and very enjoyable.

The staid leaders of a village in East Anglia meet to appoint a May Queen. In going through the lists of young ladies in the village, they find that they are all too "loose." So they decide to appoint a May King, and turn to the chaste Albert Herring.





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It's hard to imagine what a production which didn't play up the gay subtext would actually look like and what kind of sense it would have made. With all the back-and-forth recently about remakes, this is a perfect example of why modern productions with fresh, inclusive perspectives are desirable and necessary.

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