Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland Conservatorium
September 11, 2016

“Stuffy! Tobacco stink! Nasty masculine smell!” cries Lady Billows as she makes her ceremonious way down the stairs of her Edwardian country manor – a gorgeous set by Felicity Abbott. The source of her irritation is the pipe smoke produced by Superintendent Budd, which wafts out over the audience in the Queensland Conservatorium’s Theatre in the opening scene of Albert Herring. The Superintendent is just one of a delegation of local dignitaries who have arrived to decide whom to name as Queen of the May.

Albert Herring, directed by Bruce Beresford, is visually stunning, with Abbott’s lavish sets and sumptuous costumes by Wendy Cork placing the action firmly in period, in an English market town – Loxford – at the turn of the 20th century. Benjamin Britten’s comic opera tells the story of Albert, a shy greengrocer who is corralled into being crowned May King in celebration of his virginal purity when the committee – led by Lady Billows – finds the girls of the town lacking.

The town of Loxford celebrates the crowning of their May King, photo © Christian Tiger

Beresford, better known...