The Albert Herringco-stars on Britten, bad behaviour and bringing up a baby together.

Jacqueline Dark and Kanen Breen are respected members of Opera Australia’s Ensemble, not just for their fine voices, but especially for a level of dramatic finesse that gives the lie to the old saw that acting in opera is artificial. As it turns out they also happen to be comedy gold, both on and off the stage.

But wait, there’s more. As close friends and colleagues for many years they took the plunge last year and decided to have a baby together. I caught up with them backstage at the Sydney Opera House as they prepare to play the suitably eccentric leads in Benjamin Britten’s rural comedy, Albert Herringand discovered an endearing partnership, a riotous double act and an enviable family unit. Not unsurprisingly they had plenty to say – so much so that at times it was difficult to get a word in edgeways…

In the press release for Albert Herring, you’re described as “best friends in real life”. So what’s it really like playing opposite each other?

Kanen: It’s a failure. An absolute failure (laughs).

Jacqueline: (fixing him with a stare) It’s brilliant being...