On Feb. 8 and 9, the ETSU Opera Department held their performance of “Dido and Aeneas.”
Written by the English composer Henry Purcell with a libretto by Nahum Tate, the utterly devastating opera has been bringing tears to the eyes of its viewers since the late 17thcentury, and the ETSU performance was no exception.
Separated into three acts, “Dido and Aeneas” follows the tragic love story between Dido, Queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, a Trojan Prince. Through the pair’s tragedy, Purcell creates a story about love, self-denial and duty, which are all woven together by beautifully rich melodies.
With an opera as iconic as “Dido and Aeneas,” the Opera Department had a lot of live up to – both in their vocals and acting. But the department carried the heavy performance with seemingly effortless ease and professionalism.
“Overall, I think it was really great,” reported Milligan senior Larrun Maynor. “I could tell that they did a lot of work for this and that they practiced a lot.”
Of the various high notes of the performance, of which there were many, the vocals of the cast stood out as the most impressive. The members of the chorus sounded as one while the leading members of Dido (Ally Powell 2/8, Kimberly Grez 2/9), Aeneas (Mark Shelton), Belinda (Brenna Williams 2/8, Caitlin Brown 2/9), and the Sorcerer (Jonna Pickard 2/8, Gianni Loepke 2/9) powerfully belted their notes. More so, the chorus occasionally walked into the audience and stood behind the chairs, which gave the effect of full immersion in the music for the audience.
“The singing was actually beautiful,” Maynor noted.
Additionally, the opera performers skillfully emphasized their facial expressions and body language to fully captivate the audience. With earnest expressions by the performers, the viewers were mesmerized by the tragic love between Dido and Aeneas. Instead of simply hearing the lamenting of the performers, the audience also felt the tension through the performers talented acting.
“I could feel the emotion coming from the cast,” remarked Maynor.
As a whole, the Opera Department deserves a fierce bravo for their performance of the timeless classic “Dido and Aeneas.” By skillfully merging song and acting, the cast beautifully transfixed their viewers on the tragic love-story of Dido and Aeneas.