Character and Caricature in <i>Albert Herring</i>

Philip Brett

in Music and Sexuality in Britten

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246096
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939127 | DOI:
Character and Caricature in Albert Herring

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Albert Herring is a Britten opera concerned with oppression. This chapter discusses character and caricature in it. The remarkable thing about Britten's relation to that overworked word is that he seems intuitively to have grasped the thought behind the rallying cry of minority movements twenty years later that the dynamics of oppression are not bound by a one-dimensional Marxist model but work in multifarious ways. Caricature and condescension: Peter Hall has put these aspects of the opera into historical perspective. His production at Glyndebourne in 1985 employed a new and unusual kind of realism: all the characters that in real life might have spoken with a Suffolk accent, including Albert, sang that way. Albert's condition can only be fully dramatized if those ranged about him are convincing characters, imbued with feelings which are never so intense as when their dreams and hopes are shattered, when they mourn the loss of their own power as well as that of another human being.

Keywords: character; caricature; Suffolk accent; historical perspective; oppression

Chapter.  2484 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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