Saturday, August 22, 2009

Urban Opera: Dido & Aenaes

I heard last night about performances of Purcell's Dido and Aenaes taking place this weekend in San Francisco in an unusual location: the Elevated Plaza at 409-499 Illinois near 16th Street. A new company, Urban Opera, is staging the work. Here are the details, copied from the web site. I'm advised that dressing in layers is a good idea, and I heard good things about the performances and production from The Standing Room.

Urban Opera, a new opera company in San Francisco, launches its inaugural production with the first existing English opera, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, on August 21st featuring mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich in the title role.

Performance Information

Friday, August 21
Saturday, August 22
Sunday, August 23

All performances begins at 7:00 PM, the doors will open at 6:30 PM

Urban Opera ArtSpace
409 - 499 Illinois Street (@ 16th Street)
Mission Bay, San Francisco


Premium $50, General Admission $30

To purchase tickets online please click here:

Please Note: General Admission tickets will be available for purchase at the door by check or cash. It is a large outdoor space so we will be able to fit you in.

Program Details

Dido and Aeneas is Purcell’s setting of Nahum Tate’s libretto, based on a story from Virgil’s Aeneid. The opera mixes gods, heroes, mortals, and evil spirits into a one-hour Greek tragedy.

The opera begins with a spoken prologue (the original music has been lost) between the gods followed by a staged overture designed to bring those unfamiliar with Virgil’s Fourth Book of The Aeneid up to speed. Dido, the powerful Queen of Carthage is shadowed by a malevolent spirit. She is brought out of her despair by her court and by the arrival of the Trojan hero, Aeneas. At first Love seems triumphant however Dido is ultimately undone by the evil forces of the witches, by the fate the gods have set for Aeneas, and her own pride.

Urban Opera brings together singers and actors from across a broad spectrum of the music world. Featured with Ms. Scharich, are sopranos Kimarie Torre (Belinda), Milissa Carey (Sorceress), Pamela Igelsrud (Second Woman), tenor Todd Wedge (Aeneas), counter-tenors Cortez Mitchell (First Witch/Mercury) and Michael McNeil (Second Witch/Sailor). The production is accompanied by The Jubilate Baroque Orchestra.

Kue King’s modern costume design coupled with contemporary theatrical devices aid in bringing the opera out of antiquity and into a modern sensibility.

This site-specific performance will take place in an elevated park sheltered between two beautiful new buildings in Mission Bay. A grove, a meadow, and a spectacular bay view transports viewers out of the everyday and into another world. Told as the sun sets, Dido’s lament, “Remember me, but ah! Forget my fate,” seems timeless.


Anonymous said...

English Lit. Trivia Item: Nahum Tate rewrote King Lear for the court--William & Mary? Anne? one of those--with a happy ending, in which Cordelia doesn't die but marries Edgar (ensuring the succession, ever a touchy subject in those unsettled times) and they live happily ever after.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That is excellent trivia.

I am planning to go tonight, by the way.

John Marcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Marcher said...

Friday night's performance was excellent and I look forward to reading your thoughts on Saturday's. I hope we'll see more from this company.

Axel Feldheim said...

I found Friday night's show unexpectedly engaging. But we also lucked out with unseasonably balmy weather that night. I'm curious to know how the performances went on Saturday & Sunday, when the the weather was far less congenial. I'm worried about how those shirtless Trojans endured!

Lisa Hirsch said...

I went Saturday, liked it a lot, and nearly froze!

Joshua Kosman said...

You guys are weak. I was there on Sunday night and it was positively Arctic. Also great...