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What’s a village to do when a May Queen is needed and the purity of its young women is in question? Go against tradition and select the only virgin in the village: a boy – scandalous!
For years, the town leaders, led by the old-fashioned autocrat Lady Billows (sung by Christine Brewer), have chosen a sweet young maiden to represent purity and virtue at the annual May Day Festival. This year, there isn’t a girl among them without moral blemish. Enter Albert Herring; timid from years living under his mother’s thumb, he is mortified at being named “King of the May.”
Thanks to the help of friends who spike his lemonade, Albert throws caution to the wind, resulting in an evening of drunken debauchery. Come morning, Albert is ready to confront the town’s elders in this coming-of-age story. Benjamin Britten’s only true comic opera, Albert Herring explores the themes of innocence lost, social stratification, and Victorian morality, all cast in the composer’s brilliantly witty chamber score.