RIO GRANDE — The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College School of Arts and Letters is bringing opera to Southeast Ohio with a production of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.
The performance will be on campus in the John W. Berry Fine and Performing Arts Center Alphus Christensen Theatre Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Dr. Sarin Williams, who serves as director for the opera, said the performance provides a unique learning experience for students.
“For many of our students and community members involved, this is there first experience with an opera. My goal is to introduce our students to a wide variety of musical eras during the course of their studies, and I try to include all major choral cannon forms. Opera is a genre we have not done in several years, so I thought it would be a nice learning opportunity for both the students and our community,” Williams said. “Everyone has put in many hours of practice and preparation for the performance, and we’re excited to see it all come together for the shows.”
The cast for the play includes both student and community volunteers with the Masterworks Chorale providing the Chorus vocals and the Montclaire String Quartet, along with Mary Billman on harpsichord, providing the instrumental parts. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, first performed in the Baroque period during the late 1600s, has its roots in Greek Mythology and Virgil’s Aeneid. The opera tells the story of the Trojan Hero Aeneas and the Queen of Carthage Dido, whose love is hindered by Aeneas’s duty to restore his homeland and the witches intent on keeping them apart in hopes of destroying the queen and her country. Williams said she feels it is important to provide the community with opportunities to experience different genres of performance.
“This opera is a great fit for our department, and it’s especially exciting that the parts needed give all of our music majors the opportunity to take on a major solo role while still giving our community a chance to participate as well. Dido and Aeneas is one of the most famous English operas ever written, which will make it more approachable to the audience the same way it has been for our cast. This is also a compelling story with very unusual themes for a Baroque opera. Seeing or participating in an opera in Southeast Ohio is a rare opportunity, so we’re excited to share this production with our community. I’m grateful to Rio for supporting us in this endeavor as well as for the countless hours of work our vocal director, Hillary Herold, and our technical director, John Polcyn have put into the production.”
For more information on the performance, contact the School of Arts and Letters at 740-245-7364.
Information from the University of Rio Grande.