Thursday, March 26, 2015

Witches and Lovers Clash in Opera Workshop Dido and Aeneas

 Witches and lovers clash when HSU Opera Workshop presents the lively and tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas in Gist Hall Theatre, Thursday through Sunday March 26-29. 

 Set in the ancient world of myth, Dido (played by Olivia Bright) is the widowed Queen of Carthage, and Aeneas (Alberto Rodriguez) is a legendary Trojan warrior. Dido’s friend Belinda (Jessie Rawson) supports their love but a sorceress (Lorena Tamayo) and her witches plot to drive them apart. 

 “It has dancing as well as drama,” said Elisabeth Harrington, who directs the Workshop and the production. “Even though it’s a tragedy it doesn’t really became sad until the final scene. It has many moments of levity before then.” 

 This relatively short opera (about an hour) is by Henry Purcell, one of England’s greatest composers. Written in the Baroque period, it remains the only English opera before the 20th century that is still performed in the modern repertoire. It is renowned for its stirring overture, its melodic sailors dance and especially for Dido’s final aria, which has been called unsurpassed in all opera for its melancholic beauty.

 Paul Cummings conducts an instrumental ensemble accompanying the 18 singers and dancers. Student Jessie Rawson is choreographer and assistant director. Catherine Brown designed costumes, Calder Johnson and Megan Johnson provide the sets. A song performed by soprano Jessie Rawson and tenor Victor Guerrero will precede the production. 

 HSU Opera Workshop performs Dido and Aeneas in Gist Hall Theatre beginning at the earlier time of 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 26-28, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday March 29. Tickets are $10, $5 seniors and children, $3 HSU students, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Eureka Times Standard Urge, Humboldt State Now.

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