Director’s Notes – Dido and Aeneas

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I doubt that any opera company in recent history has spent more time exploring Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas than Opera Atelier. It was our first fully-mounted production at the Royal Ontario Museum more than thirty years ago, and we have since toured our production to major venues in England (Royal Albert Hall, BBC Proms 100th anniversary), France (Royal Opera House, Versailles), Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and throughout the US. Past Opera Atelier productions have featured some of Canada’s finest sopranos in the title role including Catherine Robbin, Jean Stillwell, Monica Whicher, and now the superb young mezzo, Wallis … Read more

Set Design Notes – Dido and Aeneas

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Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas has a special place in our hearts at Opera Atelier. It was one of the company’s first fully staged productions that over the years, in varied iterations, has charted our growth as artists and reflected our evolving creative vision. Early productions featured elaborate period make up and hairstyles, lavish baroque costumes and grand forced-perspective architectural sets. This new production strips away much of that surface décor and leaves us with a vision that both highlights the wild emotional trajectory of the story and points to the underlying environmental conditions that lead to the meeting, uniting and … Read more

Choreographer’s Notes

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Dido and Aeneas is part English Masque and part Italian Opera. It is unique in the works of the great English composer Henry Purcell (1656–95). The libretto is based on books one through four of The Aeneid. The opera was written for performance at a girls boarding school run by dancing master Josias Priest. It was first performed in October or December, 1689 (it may already have had a private court performance). The young ladies for whom this opera was written had received extensive and expert training in singing and dancing. The male roles were undertaken by professional performers. … Read more

Dido and Aeneas – Conductor’s Notes


Conductor’s Notes

By David Fallis

Dido and Aeneas is rightly considered one of the greatest operas ever written in English – perhaps the very greatest – but the materials which have come down to us from the 17th and 18th centuries are full of mysteries. The main surviving musical score dates from the mid-18th century, over fifty years after the death of Henry Purcell. There is a libretto (text only) from 1689, entitled “An Opera perform’d at Mr. Josias Priest’s Boarding-School at Chelsey, by young gentlewomen”. Josias Priest was a good friend of Purcell, and a dancing … Read more

Q&A with Cory Knight

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ED Cory Headshot 7793 WEBIn performing in Dido and Aeneas, what are you most looking forward to?

Dido and Aeneas is one of those musical gems that I came into contact with very early on in my studies. I’ve been fortunate enough to revisit this piece time and time again over the course of my career, and by this point I think I know every part by heart. I’m very much looking forward to some ‘boozy’ fun as the Sailor in Opera Atelier’s fall 2016 production!

What is special about performing with Opera Atelier?

My first professional opera role was with Opera Atelier. Being … Read more