In praise of 'Dido and Aeneas'

Posted: Friday, March 14, 2008

We write to you in praise of Dido and Aeneas, an opera performed by Opera To Go! with William Todd Hunt conducting the chamber orchestra and Roald Simonson directing the staging.

Last Saturday's performance, lovingly directed and sung, was a feast for the senses and we'd like to recommend it to the community. Ushered into seats on the stage, the overture and lifting curtain brought our gaze out into the auditorium, eyes set on a world of layers. Simonson's unique vision of staging included aisles, rows of seats, alcoves, the stage itself, balconies and a catwalk, all of which was swathed in thumbnails of ancient Italian frescoes. The music of the chamber orchestra was like a gift - to the audience, to the musicians, to the composer and to the conductor himself. It seemed the summation of a process, an exhalation of luxury, a freedom and a release.

After intermission the audience sat in the auditorium and watched a film version of the opera, which was set in and around Juneau (Treadwell Ice Arena, Eagle Beach) and was performed live by the singers and orchestra. At the close, there was a third and final rendition of the opera, recapping the entire story in 10 minutes. This was perhaps the most breathtaking moment of the night, as the couple coalesced in warm, golden light, and the chorus serenaded us all from the back of the auditorium.

Dido and Aeneas will be performed again this weekend on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in the JDHS auditorium. More information can be found at www.operatogo.net/dido.html.

Corle LaForce-McPherson and Becca Van De Water

Juneau



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