Dido and Aeneas bring the opera to MU – La Merciade

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The D’Angelo music department chose Dido and Aeneas to be this year’s large-scale performance opera.

Composed between 1683-1688 with a premiere date of 1689, the opera is popular among English opera fans and Baroque music listeners as it is one of the earliest English operas. It is also one of the most famous baroque operas with the libretto written by Nahum Tate.

Composed by Henry Purcell, this is his only real opera, as it is an entirely sung dramatic performance.

The story is based on Virgil’s Aeneid, specifically Book IV, where it tells of Dido’s love for Aeneas after he landed in Carthage and the despair she has once Aeneas leaves.

Auditions for the opera have already taken place on September 2 in Room 19 of the D’Angelo Music Building, but more information is to come on how to get involved with the opera.

Music majors and non-majors were able to try their hand at opera with a variety of characters and opportunities to be in the choir. The opera has a strong implication for all those who are involved musically.

Among the characters auditioned are: Dido, the queen of Carthage, also known under the name of Elissa, sung by a soprano or a mezzo-soprano; Aeneas, a Trojan prince, sung by a tenor or a great baritone; Belin-da, sister and servant of Dido, sung by a light soprano; Second Woman, another servant, sung by a soprano or a mezzo-soprano; Witch / Sorcerer, sung by a mezzo-soprano or contralto, or sung by a countertenor or bass; First Witch / Enchantress: sung by a mezzo-soprano; Second Witch / Enchantress: sung by a mezzo-soprano; Spirit, in the form of Mercury, sung by a soprano or countertenor and First Sailor, sung by a tenor.

The opera follows Dido, the widowed queen of Carthage, as she entertains Aeneas, a Trojan prince, after he is shipwrecked while trying to get to Italy to find a new Troy.

The two end up falling in love, but the witches plan the destruction of Dido.

The witch then conjures a storm while the couple hunt, and the impersonation of Mercury is carried out by a member of the witch’s clan.

As the storm erupts and the couriers return to town, Mercury tells Aeneas that he must sail to Italy, leaving Dido in Carthage.

Aeneas and the sailors leave, and Dido commits suicide.

Those who are majors in music may receive credits if their credit load permits, and those who are not majors may be eligible to receive REACH credits for their artistic requirements.

Opera experience is not required. Those who choose to become vocally involved in opera must provide two songs that showcase technical vocals, which can be arias, art songs or musical theater songs, and must have a form filled out with the sheet music for both songs.

The songs must be memorized. A pianist will be made available to all singers. The opera performances will take place on Friday March 25 and Sunday March 27 at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. The D’Angelo Opera Theater will be under the direction of its new director, Professor Royce Strider MM

For any questions, contact Strider at [email protected]


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