Alban is a two act community opera involving over 150 performers which has been commissioned by the St. Albans Cathedral Music Trust. It will be given five performances (including a matinee) in St. Albans Cathedral between May 20-24 2009, bringing together a wealth of local talent. Singers, actors, dancers and musicians of all ages drawn principally, though not exclusively, from parish and school choirs across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire will join a core of experienced professional performers. Like all large-scale community ventures it will offer many their first experience of taking part in a professionally-staged theatrical production.
This exciting project will build on the Music Trust’s previous success in staging Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, a major community undertaking which made imaginative use of the cathedral’s setting. Alban will be even more immediate as it has been composed with this particular building in mind. From the start it has been a site-specific enterprise with composer Tom Wiggall and librettist John Mole taking into consideration all the possibilities for music and movement, drama and ritual offered by the cathedral’s architectural design.
Composer and librettist have imagined the last week of Alban’s life – a family man, a successful doctor with a wife and two young children, and the opera will be staged through a combination of intimate domestic drama, and events in the public arena – the former exploring the psychological impact on Alban’s family of his new-found capacity for Christian belief, and the latter dramatising the inevitable consequence of his decision to sacrifice himself in place of the priest to whom he has offered sanctuary.
Alban has been designed to encourage engagement at all levels of musical ability and it involves many different kinds of music ranging from market cries and exclamatory mob interventions through to a closing hymn in which the audience joins with the performers.
The Cathedral Music Trust is working to ensure that Alban will be a high profile event, a celebration of the city’s patron saint and a moving experience for everyone involved, whether as a participant or as a member of the audience.