So... There I was, first time Opera attendee extraordinaire, about to sit through a performance of Virgil's Dido and Aeneas, as interpreted in Henry Purcell's 17th century Opera, as staged by world reknown choreographer Mark Morris and The Mark Morris Dance Group, in collaboration with the Orange County Pacific Symphony, and the UC Irvine Chamber Singers, at The Barclay Theatre.
Let's see...that's 2000+ years of interpretation tossed into one stew pot, stirred, and served up in one hour, for dinner. ;-D
Not a bad pedigree for what appears to be the oldest English Opera still being performed in the world.
My 1st Opera and it wasn't even a standard Opera! ;-D
Late arrival? Just follow the Usher to an anteroom in the Lobby, and read Part 1...I'll wait. ;-D
Dean Corey, President and Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Society gave a short opening lecture on Purcell's music to get us all in the mood, and then...
Oh, wait, first, I hope y'all have read the Libretto and Synopsis (The text of a work for the musical theater), because you are going to need to! (Photos below, are in no particular order.);-D
If not, let ME tell you what happens. ;-D
The first thing you notice is the minimalist constuming, and stage scenery, and the few items used as scenery on the floor of the stage in various scenes.
The story is told in 5 scenes.
In Scene 1 the Trojan War has come to an end, and Aeneas and his people are hanging out in Carthage.
The Gods say he's to get his behind to Rome, but he's in love with the Queen, Dido.
Her Sister, and various hangers-on urge her to enjoy her good fortune to the fullest, but being a widow, and all, she isn't so sure.
He comes, he pleads, she listens...Love conquers all!
The lead dancers on the night I attend are a well-matched pair, beautiful to look at, athletic dancers, and emothionally invested in the parts they play:
Aeneas is played by Craig Biesecker, Dido and the Sorceress are played by Amber Darragh.
The Sister, Belinda, is well played by Maile Okamura, and various supporting roles such as the witches, sailors, and spirits are well danced.
Scene 2 has the audience hanging out in a cave with a Sorceress, and a pair of witches.
She's as antsy to destroy Dido, before sunset, as Dodger fans are to head for the parking lot at the Seventh Inning Stretch, in order to beat the crowds.
The Sorceress schemes to send a spirit, disguised as Mercury, to tell Aeneas that he simply MUST haul ass for Rome immediately, there's just nothing else for it, old chap.
The lovers are out hunting, however, so a storm is brewed, aimed at spoiling all the fun.
What's Opera without singers, right?
Well, this one has some good ones.
Aeneas is sung by the Baritone, Christopher Johnstone, Dido and the Sorceress are sung by the Mezzo-Soprano, Jamie Van Eyck, and Belinda, and one of the witches is sung by Yulia Van Doren.
Various other roles are sung, and the UC Irvine Chamber Singers lend their voices as well.