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Music and Sexuality in BrittenSelected Essays$
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Philip Brett and George Haggerty

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246096

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246096.001.0001

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Character and Caricature in Albert Herring

Character and Caricature in Albert Herring

(p.81) Chapter Five Character and Caricature in Albert Herring
Music and Sexuality in Britten

Philip Brett

University of California Press

Albert Herring is a Britten opera concerned with oppression. This chapter discusses character and caricature in it. The remarkable thing about Britten's relation to that overworked word is that he seems intuitively to have grasped the thought behind the rallying cry of minority movements twenty years later that the dynamics of oppression are not bound by a one-dimensional Marxist model but work in multifarious ways. Caricature and condescension: Peter Hall has put these aspects of the opera into historical perspective. His production at Glyndebourne in 1985 employed a new and unusual kind of realism: all the characters that in real life might have spoken with a Suffolk accent, including Albert, sang that way. Albert's condition can only be fully dramatized if those ranged about him are convincing characters, imbued with feelings which are never so intense as when their dreams and hopes are shattered, when they mourn the loss of their own power as well as that of another human being.

Keywords:   character, caricature, Suffolk accent, historical perspective, oppression

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