Britten: Albert Herring - Pears, Cross, O. Kraus; Britten. Copenhagen, 1949
Listen to a Sample:
Over the years opera has acquired a (well-deserved) reputation for over-sized sentiment. Although this has attracted (and perhaps repelled) people for centuries, Benjamin Britten through his chamber operas strived to achieve an intimacy reserved for black box plays. Indeed many of his operas were premiered in converted spaces in his hometown of Aldeburgh. So built into the experience is an intimacy that can be lost in the "great" opera houses of the world. This recording does an excellent job of replicating the experience of hearing this opera in an intimate space. All of the singers, although perfectly capable of projecting emotion and voice to large audiences, seem to relish the opportunity to paint with a much finer brush. Peter Pears captures all of Albert's youthful, guileless charm. Joan Cross, the original Ellen Orford, is superb as the indignant Lady Billows in keep with a long tradition of dowagers that today is realized by the likes of Maggie Smith and Judy Dench. Benjamin Britten conducts the proceedings and even makes a speech at the end which is preserved on this set. The sound is very good.