Eric Hanson, Tenor

An excerpt from music critic's Matthew Erikson's blog:


With Britten, the popular misconception is that works by the 20th century British composer are box office poison.  But like Handel, Britten was a deft man of the theater.  In whatever story he's telling - and Britten had exquisite tastes in plots and librettists - you lose yourself in the narrative, the music being the dynamic vehicle to tell the tale most effectively.  Composed just a year after the masterpiece "Peter Grimes," "Albert Herring" is the jolly tale of a smalltown sad sack who in his attempts to free himself from an overbearing mother and prudish society exposes all their hypocrisy.

As reminded in the program book for the USC production, there's no death, murder or mayhem to accompany this particular opera.  Simply stunning music and, in the case of Friday night's performance in Bing Theater, excellent performances.  Tenor Eric Hanson played the lead, his pipeful voice summoning some of the same haunting power as the legendary Peter Pears.  Other standouts in this first-rate ensemble included the winsome Laurel Semerdjian as Mrs. Herring, Tim Campbell as the well-intentioned butcher Sid and Allison Foster whose commanding, big-voiced soprano worked marvels with the officious Lady Billows.

 

Not to be neglected was the fine trio of Hayden Eberhart, Clarissa Shan and Elaina Robbins as the opera's pesky kids.  Most credit should go to conductor Brent McMunn for eliciting fine sounds from the USC orchestra (including a melting second act duet for alto flute and bass clarinet) and stage director Ken Cazan for unearthing all possible good humor from provincial England, set, in this production, right after World War I.