LOGAN – Utah State University Opera presents Dido and Aeneas with special guest directors Nathan Dryden and Nicholas Kraemer. The show plays April 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and April 21 at 2 p.m. in the Morgan Theatre on the USU Logan campus.
“Dido and Aeneas is one of the great works in the operatic canon and one of the most frequently performed 17th century operas,” Christopher Scheer, associate professor of musicology in the Caine College of the Arts, said. “Dido is queen of Carthage and has fallen in love with the Trojan, Aeneas, who is briefly waylaid in fulfilling his destiny to found Rome. The evil sorceress hates Dido and succeeds in separating the lovers.”
Dido dies from being lovesick, though not before singing one of the most famous arias in operatic history, When I am Laid in Earth, Scheer notes. The music includes spritely and dignified dances, dramatic monologues and tuneful arias.
Scheer says the opera’s music is in a style that demands a special approach and historical understanding, which is why Scheer, along with Dallas Heaton, director of the opera theatre program in the Caine College of the Arts, brought in the special guest music director, Nicholas Kraemer, and Purcell Scholar and Syracuse University professor, Amanda Eubanks Winkler.
Kraemer is one of the leading interpreters of pre-1750 music working today and has a magisterial list of engagements with orchestras and festivals around the world, including the Music of the Baroque (Chicago), the Berlin Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony, Bath (U.K.) Festival and more. Scheer said he brings a wealth of experience to this project.
Amanda Eubanks Winkler is one of the leading scholars of 17th century English musical drama. She has published books, articles and critical editions on this topic and is currently participating in an international project entitled Performing Restoration Shakespeare. For this production, she has acted as the historical consultant and will also be giving preconcert talks an hour before each performance.
“In addition to preparing this production, students can take a semester-long for-credit seminar on the works of Henry Purcell, augmenting their performance experience with critical scholarly enquiry into the period,” Scheer said. “There are very few opportunities anywhere for students to have such immersion in a project as we offer at USU.”
Though a historical approach is being taken with music preparation, the production itself is modern both in look and the dancing.
“The sort of postmodern juxtaposition has become increasingly common in the production of early opera,” Scheer said. “It offers our students further insight into contemporary production approaches.”
Tickets are $10 adults, $8 seniors/youth, $5 USU faculty/staff and free for USU students with ID. Free pre-show lectures given by Amanda Eubanks Winkler are one hour prior to each performance in FAV 262. For more information and tickets, contact the CCA Box Office in room L101 of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus, call 435-797-8022 or go online to cca.usu.edu.