U of I Opera Production of ‘Albert Herring’ Places Third in the Nation
The University of Idaho Opera Workshop’s spring 2019 production of “Albert Herring” placed third in the nation in the National Opera Association’s Annual Opera Production Competition. The competition judges opera productions by the quality of singing and character realization from the performers, appropriateness of the repertoire for the singers, quality of stage direction and production concept. In the competition, the University of Idaho placed behind productions from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin.
U of I’s Opera Workshop is a student ensemble in the Lionel Hampton School of Music that performs fully staged operas and/or scenes from operas, operettas and musical theater shows each semester.
Written by Benjamin Britten in 1947, “Albert Herring” is a comedy that spotlights small-town life in which everyone knows everyone and all of the silly goings-on in town. U of I’s cast of the opera included twelve students, accompaniment by the University of Idaho Opera Orchestra, set production by Jesse Dreikosen, assistant director in the Department of Theatre Arts, and costumes made by graduate student Carson Saline.
Christopher Pfund, assistant professor of voice and co-director of “Albert Herring” submitted the production for consideration to the annual competition for a few reasons, most notably the high level at which students were performing the opera.
“I chose to enter ‘Albert Herring’ because the students were performing Britten's complex music at a very high level and also because their characterizations and story-telling were fantastic,” Christopher said. “Almost the entire cast consisted of undergraduates, and the level of performance they achieved was astounding.”
Christopher co-directed the April 2019 production of “Albert Herring” with Lynette Pfund, his wife and co-instructor of the Opera Workshop in U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.
The pair have a close connection to “Albert Herring,” having performed it as graduate students at the Manhattan School of Music and then as performers on the opera’s Vox Records professional recording in 1996.
Having such a unique connection to the production, the recognition from the National Opera Association has meant a lot to Christopher.
“For me, receiving this honor represents the culmination of all the work and growth that the program has experienced over the past five years,” he said. “We are proud of the fact that University of Idaho has now been nationally recognized as a destination for the highest-quality collegiate opera instruction.”
Article by Kathy Foss, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
Posted December 2019