Preview: Dido and Aeneas

Gatsby-esque Dido and Aeneas arrives at the National Centre for Early Music this weekend

       Directed by Sophie Rees and produced by Jack Harberd, this ambitious student production of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas promises to be an auditory and visual delight. Starring Alice Rathbone as Dido and Oliver Hooper as Aeneas, both charismatic vocalists are supported by an engaging and dynamic ensemble that quickly establish a divide between old money and the nouveau riche. Rapidly switching from choruses of well wishing to harmonies of demonic laughter, this strong cast ensure a smooth transition between lament and revelry. The more contemporary context lends itself to the innovative interpretation of the opera; Carthage becomes the site of a Gatsby-esque soiree, complete with 1920’s costume inviting matchmaking. Character solo’s are convincingly performed and seamlessly blend into individual scenes. Strong female pairings include Georgina Gulliver as the mischievous Belinda and Katie Wood as the comedic lovelorn second woman, matched by the cold suavity of Anya Chomacki and Sian Haines as the ‘wayward sisters.’  The vocal quality and stage presence of every member of the cast is testament to their obvious engagement with the music, conducted by Angelika-Rose Stangl. Choreographed by Ellie Pybus, movement is seamlessly integrated into the chorus, dancing at a party becomes a jealous ballet of revenge and the mass physical intimidation of a single character. Despite the relative scarcity of props and scenery, this opera retains intrigue throughout, an energetic performance replete with talent.

       Tickets can be bought on the door at the NCEM Saturday and Sunday evening. Alternatively purchase online here.