by Henry purcell (Oct. 20-29, 2016 at the Elgin THeatre)
“Wallis Giunta, one of Canada’s great rising operatic stars will be Dido in the fall production… one of the great English operas of all time“ – Globe and Mail
Dido, the widowed queen of Carthage, embarks on a blatant affair with the mesmerizing Trojan prince Aeneas. When he abandons her, she bravely embraces her one alternative to a life of humiliation and regret.
In Dido and Aeneas, Purcell seamlessly blends tragedy and comedy in this masterpiece of English theatre. Between the intense emotion between the two lovers and the hilarious slapstick of the witches, Dido and Aeneas is the perfect introduction to opera for adults and young people alike. We are encouraging all of our patrons to take this opportunity to introduce a friend to the glory of opera.
The opera runs approximately 90 minutes, including one intermission.
Wallis Giunta – Dido
Christopher Enns – Aeneas
Meghan Lindsay – Belinda
Laura Pudwell – Sorceress
Cory Knight – Sailor
Ellen McAteer – First Witch, Second Lady
Karine White – First Lady, Second Witch, Mercury
Artists of Atelier Ballet
Guest Choir: Toronto Children’s Chorus Choral Scholars, Elise Bradley, Artistic Director
The full performance schedule for Dido and Aeneas is:
Please note: this performance will contain haze and strobe lighting.
With Narrator Irene Poole, Artists of Atelier Ballet, Wallis Giunta, and Christopher Enns
Our narrator assumes alternately the voices of the poet Virgil, Juno (the Queen of Heaven), Aeolus (King of the Winds) and Neptune, the Lord of the Sea.
We are told of the reasons for Juno’s fury – her hatred of the Trojan Prince Aeneas and her attempts to destroy him at sea. Aeneas and a handful of his men are saved by the god Neptune and take refuge in the harbour of Carthage — kingdom of Dido, a recently widowed Queen.
Aeneas and his men wander through Dido’s beautiful kingdom, magically hidden from sight by a cloud. Venus suddenly reveals them to the court and Dido and Aeneas fall desperately in love. Dido, however, resists Aeneas, having sworn eternal fidelity to the spirit of her murdered husband.
Act 1 Scene i
Dido, Queen of Carthage, is tormented, but refuses to reveal the cause of her distress. Her sister Belinda guesses her secret: Dido is desperately in love with Aeneas, the Trojan prince who has found refuge at her court following the destruction of Troy. After Belinda and the Queen’s courtiers declare their hope for such a union, Aeneas appears and presses Dido to respond to his love. The Queen insists that fate has forbidden their union, but she eventually succumbs to the encouragement of her court and publicly acknowledges Aeneas as her consort. The courtiers extol the triumph of love and beauty with singing and dancing, and further celebrate with a hunting party.
Act 1 Scene ii
Meanwhile, the Sorceress and her witches plot the downfall of the Queen and the destruction of Carthage. During the hunt, the Sorceress will send an elf, disguised as Mercury (messenger of the gods) to demand that Aeneas leave Carthage immediately, and continue his quest to found a new Troy. Aeneas will have no choice but to forsake Dido. To hasten this moment, the witches conjure a storm to disperse the hunting party and separate Dido and Aeneas. The witches gloat over their demonic plan.
Act 2 Scene i
Dido, Aeneas, and their courtiers rest from their hunting in a beautiful grove. The royal couple is entertained by singing and dancing. One of Dido’s ladies-in-waiting tells the tale of the hunter Acteon who was changed into a stag and pursued by his own hounds, after he had seen the goddess Diana bathing in a fountain. The entertainment is cut short by the witches’ terrifying storm, and the hunting party races back to Carthage. Last to depart, Aeneas is waylaid by the Sorceress’ elf, disguised as Mercury. Pretending to speak for Jupiter, the spirit orders Aeneas forsake Carthage and abandon all thoughts of love. Aeneas is torn between his destiny to found a new kingdom of Troy and his commitment to Dido, but resolves to obey Jupiter. The Sorceress and the witches, who have been listening out of sight, celebrate the success of their plot.
Act 2 Scene ii
The departure of Aeneas’ fleet is imminent. A Trojan sailor cajoles his companions to say goodbye to their Carthaginian sweethearts. The witches rejoice over Dido’s misfortune, and the Sorceress plots the death of Aeneas in a storm they will create during his sea travels. Dido has divined Aeneas’s change of plans, and her fears are soon confirmed: he tells her that the gods have decreed he must depart at once. Outraged at what she sees as his duplicity, Dido sends Aeneas away, despite his pleas to remain. As soon as she is forsaken, the queen is overwhelmed and takes her own life. The courtiers mourn their tragic Queen and call for cupids to scatter roses on her tomb. Aeneas fulfills his destiny and becomes the founder of Rome – the new Troy.