By Melissa Vach
Arts and Entertainment Editor
The Viterbo Fine Arts Center Recital Hall will see Henry Purcell’s 17th century baroque opera Dido and Aeneas, which explores the doomed love story of Trojan hero Aeneas and Dido the queen of Carthage, performed on Oct. 4-5 at 7:30p.m. and Oct. 6 at 2p.m.
23 Viterbo students will perform in the opera, led by music director David Richardson and guest stage director Nathan Troup.
Richardson, associate music instructor at Viterbo, rehearses pitches, diction, and style with students during rehearsals. He will play harpsichord for the performance alongside a quartet of contracted professionals from the Viroqua, Winona and La Crosse areas.
Troup, a faculty member of The Boston Conservatory, Boston University’s Opera Institute, and an outreach educator in juvenile detention facilities, manages stage direction for the opera.
“The challenge from the get-go is to get students off-book,” Richardson said.
“They have to communicate the text and become the character,” Richardson continued, noting that it is harder to do that when students are reliant upon the text and cannot focus as much on the acting.
He also said the opera is an opportunity for students to gain experience in being prepared for rehearsals as well as learn a good work ethic.
“If things go wrong, how do they adapt?” Richardson questioned, emphasizing the benefit.
The opera tells the story of Trojan hero Aeneas and his lover Dido, the queen of Carthage. Different from the epic story The Aeneid by Virgil, Purcell’s Aeneas is tricked by a sorcerer to leave Carthage for Italy, thinking he was sent by the god Mercury to build a new city. However, when Aeneas realizes he cannot leave Dido and returns to her, she no longer accepts him.
“There are so many unknowns, such as why do the Witches hate Dido?” Richardson said, referring to the magical forces which plot to bring destruction upon Dido and Carthage, primarily through the unsuspecting Aeneas.
What is not unknown, according to Richardson, is “the pain Dido has at the end; we can understand what she’s going through.”
Richardson hopes that “the audience will be able to appreciate the beauty of music and forget that they’re sitting in a chair for an hour.”
Tickets may be purchased online or at the Box Office for $12 general admission.