Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Dr. David Duke
PORTALES – The Eastern New Mexico University Department of Music will present Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" on March 7-8 at 7 p.m. in Buchanan Hall in the Music Building. Classic Greek Drama meets English Baroque opera in this heart-rending tale of love, betrayal and the destructive forces of fate.
The production is under the direction of Dr. David W. Duke, assistant professor of voice, who will also conduct a chamber ensemble, consisting of a string quartet and keyboard.
"This is one of the finest operas ever written in the English language," says Duke. "We have several students who will be graduating, and this is a perfect vehicle to show off their talents, as well as some of our up and coming students. It is only an hour long, so it fits, both in size and scope, the abilities of the performers and the facilities available. This is really a chamber opera, which fits in nicely in a small venue such as Buchanan Hall."
The opera will be fully costumed and staged, with some dancing as well to break up the somewhat static quality often associated with baroque theater pieces.
Alissa Allen, from Las Cruces, N.M., will sing the title role of Dido, Queen of Carthage. Dido, who is mourning the death of her first husband, is courted by Aeneas, sung by Hoss Bichsel of Lubbock, Texas. While it seems a perfect union of lovers and kingdoms, an evil Sorceress, sung by Jennifer Sanchez of Albuquerque, N.M., has other plans. She conspires Dido's downfall by sending Aeneas to conquer what is now Italy, and to found the city of Rome. Aeneas, believing it is the Gods' decree, parts with Dido, whose only recourse is to end her own life. Her final lament, "When I am Laid in Earth…Remember me, but, ah, forget my fate," is one of the most beautiful arias ever written for the voice.
Supporting cast members include Colleen Payne (Belinda) of Lubbock, Texas, Dara Armstrong (Anna) of Roswell, N.M., Anstasya Sevachko (First Witch) of Las Cruces, N.M., Kisa Kirby (Second Witch) of Clovis, N.M., Rory Golden of Artesia, N.M., and Leah Bentley from southern California.
The chorus is also an integral part of the opera, filling the role of the ancient Greek chorus in commenting and expounding the meaning of the action.
"To me," explains Dr. Duke, "this piece, which is nearly four hundred years old (and the original story goes back to Virgil, 2000 years ago), still has relevance in our day. The current situation, with thousands of military men and women being deployed in far-reaching and dangerous places around the world, there is significant disruption of and long-lasting effects on the lives of their loved ones left behind. It's an old story, retold and relived anew generation after generation. That's why stories like this are still remembered. Let us hope that it doesn't always end tragically."
Tickets are $5 and are available from the Music Office. For information, call 505.562.2377.