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JSU Choral Activities Presents Baroque Opera "Dido and Aeneas"

03/28/2016


On April 4 and 5, the JSU Choral Activities area of the David L. Walters Department of Music at Jacksonville State University will present Henry Purcell’s masterpiece English opera "Dido and Aeneas" in the Mason Hall Performance Center on JSU's campus. The opera is directed by JSU Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Patricia Corbin, with scenic design by Dr. Nathan Wight. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for JSU students with an ID. 

"Dido and Aeneas" was written by Purcell around 1688 with a libretto by Nahum Tate for a girl’s boarding school in Chelsea, England. The plot is taken from Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid, and tells the story of Dido, the Queen of Carthage who falls in love with, and is later abandoned by Aeneas, the Trojan prince. It is historically significant because is the first official opera in the English language. “When I am Laid in Earth,” also known as “Dido’s Lament,” is the best known aria from this work.

“This opera is one of my favorites for the choral program,” said Corbin. “There are many characters in the story, so it gives me an opportunity to showcase many of our talented singers. In addition to Queen Dido and Aeneas, there are courtiers, sorceresses, witches, sailors and other mythical creatures. The opera only lasts about an hour, so it is a very manageable production."

The principal characters are sung by members of Chamber Singers assisted by the A Cappella Choir. The opera is double cast with Noya Levy and Madison Baldwin as Dido and LaRue Bowman and De Mario Plott as Aeneas, along with others. The opera will be accompanied by Dr. Lorna Lee Curtis and a string quartet consisting of JSU students, Phoebe Hauser (violin) and Drew Bradley (viola); Diane Chong (violin); and JSU adjunct professor, Peter Garrett (cello).

The opera is filled with references to Virgil’s "Aeneid" and Greek mythology which are not commonly known. In order to help the performers understand the context of the work, Corbin reached out to JSU English professor, Dr. Carmine Di Biase, for assistance. “Dr. Di Biase was a fantastic resource,” stated Corbin. “He came to our Chamber Singers rehearsal and gave us an insightful lecture on the language, context and literary references." 

On Monday, April 4, at 10 a.m., there will be a special daytime performance for invited area high schools. “Dr. Di Biase was kind enough to prepare a study guide for the teachers to use to get the students ready for the performance,” said Dr. Corbin. “He has also provided the program notes for the audience.”

Tickets will go on sale Monday, March 28 and may be purchased through the Choral Activities office 256-782-5544. Seating is limited, so early purchase is recommended. For more information, please contact Dr. Patricia Corbin at pcorbin@jsu.edu

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