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A Sneak Peek at Opera UCI’s “Dido and Aeneas”

A tale of love, betrayal and revenge, “Dido and Aeneas” is the Claire Trevor School of the Art’s Vocal Arts Deparment’s first fully-staged opera production in five years. Photo Courtesy of Opera UCI.

The English opera “Dido and Aeneas,” composed in the late 1600s by Henry Purcell, is taking the stage as Opera UCI’s premiere production for the 2015-16 season.
“‘Dido and Aeneas’ tells the tale of the legendary Queen of Carthage, Dido, and how she falls in love with the Trojan refugee prince, Aeneas,” said fourth-year vocal performance major Laura Erath, the actress/vocalist playing Dido. “Meanwhile, an evil sorceress and her witches plot Dido’s destruction.”
The enga
ging story is UCI’s first fully-staged opera since 2011, requiring a wealth of faculty support and rehearsal to get the production going. The cast has staging rehearsal twice a week, under the direction of staging and artistic director Dr. Kevin Blickfeldt, and a weekly dance rehearsal led by dance director Jeffrey McCray. Rueben Valenzuela is responsible for music directing, and choral director Seth Houston supervises the 16 students in the chorus. The production is overseen by Dr. Darryl Taylor, an associate professor in the music department.
The first cla
ss in five years to perform in a fully-staged opera, the cast, made up mostly of students of the Vocal Arts Department, have a unique performance opportunity in “Dido and Aeneas.”
“It’s definitely an exciting time to be able to be a part of something that’s not only a huge group undertaking, but has also really bonded us even further as a department unit,” said Erath. “As a senior, it feels good to see this legacy [of the opera] return to the campus after its hiatus. I feel extremely lucky to have gotten the chance to … create something that will hopefully provide a solid springboard for future productions!”
Opera UCI’s Spring production of “Dido and Aeneas” will take the stage of the Winifred Smith Hall on April 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.