Wednesday’s RBA concert was a preview of Opera Atelier’s upcoming production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Something between a performance of excerpts and a working rehearsal it featured Marshall Pynkoski introducing a series of excerpts for both singers (in rehearsal dress) and dancers (in costume). He provided a good linking narrative situating each excerpt in the context of the work together with some general remarks about the nature and origin of the piece.
We got Meghan Lindsay (Dido) and Mireille Asselin (Belinda) with the opening duet. They wre joined by Colion Ainsworth (Aeneas) for “see, your royal guest appears” followed by the triumphing dance by two members of the OA ballet. There was some serious witchiness from Danielle MacMillan and Cynthia Smithers, more dance and Mireille with “Thanks to these lonesome vales” before a very dramatic account of the final confrontation between the lovers and Dido’s famous lament.
There was a fair bit of drama and some very fine singing together with sensitive accompaniment from Christopher Bagan. I think it gave a fair idea of what the fully staged show will be like. That runs for three performances from October 20th at the Elgin Theatre.
Fifty years ago I was studying Virgil’s Aerneid for ‘O’ level and it struck me today that the famous lines from Book 6 might almost serve as a metaphor for the arts during Covid and, hopefully, their eventual full return:
Facilis descensus Averno… Sed revocare gradium superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est.
Anyway this was much the best attended RBA concert I’ve been to since the restart which is a hopeful sign.