On Friday, March 21, the College’s Department of Music presented its second performance of Henry Purcell’s opera, “Dido and Aeneas,” in the Black Box Theatre in Kendall Hall.
The cast was composed of members of TCNJ’s Lyric Theater and Orchestra, and the opera was directed by Professor Lars Woodul and conducted by Professor Michel Galante.
The tragic story portrays love gone awry in ancient times. Dido, Queen of Carthage, falls in love with Trojan Prince Aeneas. Although they plan to marry, their happiness is shattered when the evil Sorceress tricks Aeneas into believing the god Mercury is demanding him to leave Dido and sail back to Italy. Dido is left alone and dies of a broken heart.
The talented cast of Dido and Aeneas consisted of 15 students, all of whom were skilled vocalists. The opera displayed their impressive ranges, as well as their ability to harmonize altogether. On alternate nights, the roles were shared between different cast members. Those who performed as a lead on one night became a member of the chorus for the next show. This allowed for the entire cast’s talents to be shown — and all members rightly deserved their moments in the spotlight.
Another impressive aspect of the performance was the inclusion of a live orchestra.
Despite the small size of the venue, the musicians did not overpower the voices, but rather embraced and accented them. Each moment flowed perfectly into the next, with no uncomfortable or abrupt endings. This was the meticulous work of the orchestra, which set the pace for the entire show.
The opera’s stage crew created beautiful scenery that set the atmosphere of the show. The stage was decorated with columns and stonework, creating the illusion of actually taking place in ancient times. The backdrop was composed of four panels that rotated between scenes to display different locations, including Dido’s palace, the Sorceress’s lair and Prince Aeneas’s ship. Perfected lighting and cues accented each setting as well.
With every aspect of the show meticulously finished, the performance was well received by the audience.
“I was extremely impressed by the cast, orchestra and stage. I didn’t know that TCNJ had so many students skilled in opera! I am definitely glad that I came,” freshman English and special education dual major Caitlin Randik said.
“Dido and Aeneas” reflected the traditional aspects of the ancient cities, from the setting and costumes to the beautiful opera music. The talented performers, orchestra and crew certainly made the night a huge success.