Bach Collegium will breathe new life into 300-year-old opera, ‘Dido and Aeneas’
Bach Collegium San Diego will bring its eighth season to a close with its first staged production a complete opera, Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” June 11 and 12 at the new 400-seat Rancho Santa Fe Performing Arts Center on the campus of R. Roger Rowe Middle School. The opera, first perfomed in London in 1688, tells the love story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and the Trojan War hero Aeneas, and her despair at his abandonment of her.
To direct the show, the Collegium chose award-winning Hungarian stage director Gabor Tompa of UCSD’s Theatre and Dance Department. Tompa will stage “Dido and Aeneas” in a contemporary setting, with few sets and props, instead making use of projections and visual elements. He plans to include UCSD students on the stage crew.
“ ‘Dido and Aeneas’ is a landmark of Baroque music and considered by many to be the first true English opera,” said music director Ruben Valenzuela. “It’s a bona fide hit, and a great entry point for newcomers because it’s only about an hour long and includes a lot of beautiful music and even a famous aria, ‘Dido’s Lament.’ It will feature 16 singers and an orchestra of 16 players using authentic 17th-century period instruments.”
Bach Collegium is San Diego’s only early music performance ensemble. Valenzuela said he sees the production as the start of a move toward Bach Collegium producing more operas in the future.
The cast includes Kathryn Mueller (soprano), Janelle DeStefano (mezzo soprano), Angela Young Smucker (alto), and Scott Mello (tenor).
Tompa has directed more than 80 productions worldwide, including plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov, Beckett, Bulgokhov, Camus, and Ionesco. Four times Best Director of the Year, he received the Best Performance of the Year Award in 2009 for “Three Sisters,” and his production of “Born for Never” was voted top Critics’ Choice at the 2009 Festival of Avignon. He recently directed “Don Giovanni” at the National Opera of Romania.
If you go
What: Bach Collegium San Diego’s “Dido and Aeneas”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11; 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12
Where: 5927 La Granada St., Rancho Santa Fe
Contact: (619) 341-1726
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