One could reasonably ask why a lot of the ensemble singing in Mid Wales Opera’s version of Britten’s Albert Herring seems so shrill.

It’s not just because this is full-throated delivery in a constricted performing space, one of many the company will have appeared in before its current tour of Wales and England is completed.

No - it’s because the comedy of this comic opera is dwarfed by small-town hypocrisy and repression. Director Michael Barker-Caven quite rightly makes its Establishment characters - mayor, teacher, parson, policeman, her local ladyship and her ladyship’s factotum - fall in with Albert’s mother to maintain a suffocating atmosphere. For a comedy, this Albert Herring is often disturbing Herring, the harmless fool who becomes May King because the May Queen candidates are no better than they should be, has echoes in other male protagonists of Britten operas.

But his predicament is not half as dire as Peter Grimes and he survives the festivities during a May night of mild debauchery to shed his inhibitions. Happy ending, of sorts. As a victim and 'outsider', Grimes was especially hard done by.

It’s a marvellous presentation by a superbly adaptable cast and orchestra, all controlled without superfluity by conductor Nicholas Cleobury and singing and playing with authority and cooperative intent.

Christopher Turner (Herring), Catrin Aur (Lady Billows), Máire Flavin (Nancy), Amy Payne (Florence Pike), Rebecca van den Berg (Miss Wordsworth), Gerard Collett (Gedge), Lee Bowen (Upfold), Aidan Smith (Supt. Budd), Matthew Sprange (Sid) and Annie Gill (Mrs Herring) excel themselves as do the riotous kids - Herring before he succumbed to social pressures - played by Daisy Brown, Caroline Kennedy and Sian Winstanley.

One can never forget the skill designers employ to kit out a production intended for touring, sometimes when they are not aware of small-theatre exigencies on route. Britten doesn't require much in the way of scene changes for Albert Herring but there's a Suffolk seaside atmosphere to invoke and this is captured perfectly in Adam Wiltshire's sea-view backdrop and its foreground marram grass, which elides into the physical set nicely.

The most important function of the drop, however, is to provide a shadow-screen for the offstage goings-on. Lighting designer Declan Randall does well here, suggesting a sometimes menacing atmosphere to complement the louring one established by Barker-Caven and Cleobury. That lop-sided Union Jack is saying something, too.

People who should have known better at Glyndebourne were less than enthusiastic about the opening of Albert Herring there. Time in its case has seen the opera fare much better, not just in the Britten canon but among those who thought the work too light. As Mid Wales Opera demonstrates, it's far from being a roll in the dunes. There's a milieu established which one might want to be rid off. Albert, though, is content to be a little more streetwise than he'd been previously.

And let's not be uncharitable in refusing to mention that this year is the centenary of Britten's birth. What can we do? Mid Wales Opera must have asked themselves. Well, no more auspiciously than this in reviving a once-maligned work that might have been written with touring in mind.