2003, English, Article edition: The Performance of Pastoral Politics: Britten's Albert Herring Young, Brian

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  • Oxford University Press
  • 2003-03-01 00:00:00.0
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • The Performance of Pastoral Politics: Britten's Albert Herring
Author
  • Young, Brian
Published
  • Oxford University Press
  • 2003-03-01 00:00:00.0
Physical Description
  • text/​html
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Notes
  • Opera has a radical history of political and social engagement, and this essay is a contribution to that history. It takes as its point of departure a relatively minor opera by Benjamin Britten, Albert Herring (1947), which it places in context, revealing that what is usually taken to be a slight, nostalgic comedy is a staging of generational revolt, which subverts the conventional conservatism of the pastoral, turning it towards a socialist vision at one with the direction of the interventionist Labour government then newly elected to office. Britten's own role as a socialist cultural broker between the worlds of rural working people and comfortably off opera&​hyphen;goers is emphasized, as is the consistency of his left&​hyphen;wing political commitment, from the 1930s to the end of his working life in the early 1970s, when he composed a pacifist opera for the BBC, Owen Wingrave , and his last work for the stage, Death in Venice . The movement of Britten's operatic career, post Albert Herring , from the private&​hyphen;finance initiative of John Christie's Glyndebourne to the publicly&​hyphen;funded Arts Council masterminded by John Maynard Keynes, is symptomatic of the socialist politics of the composer and the operas that he created in post Second World War England.
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Language
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