Arts Review: Dido & Aeneas

On a rainy night on the 31st of May, Glasgow University Opera Society took to the impressive stage of the Memorial Chapel for their production of Dido and Aeneas. The classical story is a tale of the Trojan hero Aeneas falling for Dido, queen of Carthage, only to be forced to leave and fulfil his destiny in founding Rome. Heartbroken, Dido kills herself by falling on her lover’s sword. This version draws inspiration from the opera written and composed by Henry Purcell, as well as Vergil’s Roman epic The Aeneid.

The production opens with ‘The Masque of Cupid and Bacchus’ – a lighter story involving the characters from the main story. In this story, the followers of the Greek gods of love and wine, Cupid and Bacchus respectively, squabble. The masque was an excellent showcase of the individual talents of the opera society. Peter Sykes and Erin McCrystal as Bacchus and Cupid respectively were both excellent; Sykes in particular filled the whole hall with his bass.

The only issue I had with the production was that the segway between the masque and the main show wasn’t as clear as it could have been. Without a program, I was left wondering where one had ended and the other began.

The tragic story of Dido and Aeneas ended appropriately with the suicide of Dido,  and this production chose to use pills rather than a sword. Both Aeneas (Edward Horrocks) and Belinda (Sophie Boyd) were great, with impressive range to their voices. Yet the show was utterly stolen by Jasmine Hunt as Dido. I can’t praise Hunt’s performance enough – she owned the floor of the chapel. Her soprano voice was beautiful, and powerful enough that I almost thought she would shatter the stained glass. Her acting, often neglected by opera singers, was also excellent. She despaired and died as Dido beautifully.

In Dido and Aeneas, our very own opera society have pulled off a triumph. It was done to an excellent standard, and everyone involved deserves the highest praise.

[Gabriel Rutherford – he/him – @GabeRuth_]

[Photo Credit: Glasgow University Opera Society]

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