Next week, Dorchester will be participating in the worldwide centenary celebrations of the British composer Benjamin Britten with four free performances of one of his comic operas at the Strand Theatre, thanks to the annual visit of the crowd-and critic-pleasing Boston Opera Collaborative (BOC).
Lindsay Conrad, BOC’s manager director, expressed the company’s pleasure at returning once again to Uphams Corner after its well-received productions of Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” (2012) and Rossini’s “Cinderella” (2013).
“The Strand’s grand stage and ornate architecture are perfect for operatic works!” she told the Reporter. “Live theater is unfortunately becoming a rarity, and we are so excited that the Strand is again teaming up with us and The Free for All Concert Fund, Inc. to bring free, accessible theater to Dorchester. We’ve loved performing in the theater and getting to know the community over the past couple years, and we’re looking forward to another great show this summer!”
Originally, BOC had planned to end its season with another, more ambitious Britten work, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” However, a scarcity of countertenors and a desire to finish on a comic high note led the company to plump for “Albert Herring,” which pokes fun at small minds in small towns.
“Herring” is a chamber opera by Britten who established the form starting in the 1940s and gave the genre its name. The plot is taken from an 1887 novella by Guy de Maupassant, exchanging the French village setting for a British one. The theme about how conventional society reacts to an outsider was a recurring motif in Britten’s work.
The tempest-in-a-teacup plot unfolds in tiny Loxford where organizers of a traditional spring festival are alarmed to discover no local young lady sufficiently virtuous enough to be crowned May Queen. But since it is common knowledge that Albert, the greengrocer’s boy, knows nothing about the delights of the flesh, they hesitatingly name him Loxford’s first May King. But what happens when the other lads get Albert drunk and he goes wild with the prize money? Will there be anyone in Loxford pure enough to wear the crown?
Jeremy Ayres Fisher will sing the title role and Beibei Guan the part of Nancy at the 7:30 p.m. performances on Thurs., July 24, and Sat., July 26. Zac Engle and Heather Gallagher will do the honors at the 3 p.m. performances on Friday the 25th and Sunday the 27th.
The three-act performance runs two-and-a-half hours with two intermissions. BOC encourages any theater camps, groups, or general interest organizations to attend the Friday afternoon show. BOC also ask folks to request free tickets on line. Still, because of the size of the Strand, its Dot neighbors can be confident there will always be seats if they decide at the last minute to catch this delightful operatic romp.