Acclaimed Australian film director Bruce Beresford is helming the Queensland Conservatorium’s annual opera production, Albert Herring.
This is the first time the film director has taken the reins of a student production and he says audiences are in for a treat.
“Queensland is lucky to have a music school this good,” he said of the Queensland Conservatorium.
“I’m astounded by the standard of the students in this production.”
The chance to direct an opera by one of his favourite composers was also a drawcard.
“Benjamin Britten was a genius. This show is an absolute gem – tuneful, charming and terribly funny,” he said.
Beresford, whose film credits include the Academy Award-winning Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy, developed a passion for classical music early in life and his talents in musical production extend more than three decades.
His opera directorial debut was Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West for the Spoleto Festival in 1986 and in recent years he has directed the Australian productions of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men and Erich Korngold’s The Dead City for Opera Australia.
Bruce Beresford’s love of opera
“I’ve always been interested in things other than film,” he said.
“l love classical music, more than anything else.”
Mr Beresford said that opera continued to be a dynamic art form.
“It certainly isn’t a dying art or elitist. For one thing, it’s cheaper than a rock concert and the music is better!”
The Queensland Conservatorium’s annual opera production has attracted a glittering team of creatives, from Tony-award winning lighting designer Nigel Levings, acclaimed set designer Felicity Abbott and renowned costume designer Wendy Cork.
Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said the opera had set a new benchmark for the Conservatorium.
“It is our biggest production to date, and we have assembled an amazing team,” he said.
“The show is going to be fabulous.”
Albert Herring: A coming of age
Composed by Benjamin Britten in 1947, Albert Herring is a comic chamber opera in three acts. Described as a ‘coming of age’ story, it follows Albert, a henpecked social misfit living in a small English village.
The light-hearted tale takes a turn when Albert is crowned May King after none of the village’s young women are deemed worthy of becoming May Queen.
Associate Professor Nicholas Cleobury, the Head of Opera at the Queensland Conservatorium, is conducting Albert Herring. He has previously conducted the opera three times, including performances at the Royal Academy of Music and the Mid Wales Opera in London.
Associate Professor Nicholas Cleobury, the Founder Laureate of the celebrated Britten Sinfonia, said the double casting of Albert Herring demonstrated the depth of student talent at the Queensland Conservatorium.
“We have 26 people capable of performing in this opera, and no role is too small,” he said.
“There are so many elements in an opera, from lighting, costumes and make up, there is every discipline under the sun to master.
“For some students it will be a real learning curve and it is especially wonderful for them, through our staff, to have a line back to people who knew the composer.”
The opera has special ties for a number of Queensland Conservatorium staff members, with some of them studying or working with Britten’s personal and professional partner, the esteemed tenor Sir Peter Pears.
Among them is Gregory Massingham, who studied with Sir Peter in London during his early career. Teacher Joseph Ward performed in the original cast while alumnus and Professor of Opera Lisa Gasteen sang in the lead role as a student when the Queensland Conservatorium first staged the opera in the early 80s.
The production, with an ensemble of 26 Queensland Conservatorium students and a 13-piece chamber orchestra, will be staged at the Conservatorium Theatre from September 9 – 17. Tickets are available at QTIX