State Opera SA
Plant 4
Until 07 Oct 2018

Review by Fran Edwards

This opera is not often performed. Written by Henry Purcell in the 1680s, there is no original score – and it is known that there were no stage directions or peripheral information, so the performance requires a lot of input. Having been told this was an opera in three acts I was prepared for a full evening, but the performance lasted a little over an hour.

There is no doubt that Purcell’s music is beautiful and the choral work in this performance is outstanding, showing the depth of talent in the Elder Conservatorium Music Chorus. Bethany Hill as Dido is a strong Queen of Carthage, commanding and regal, perfectly matched by Raphael Wong as Aeneas, the Prince of Troy. Elizabeth Campbell gives a fine performance as the Sorceress as does Kate Louise Macfarlane as Dido’s handmaiden Belinda. Sara Lambert’s strong voice makes the most of the important part of the Second Woman.

The imaginative use of a former industrial site is interesting to see, and the crew should be commended for the smooth running of the production. The lighting and special effects were good but Mother Nature, not to be out done, provided some real thunder, lighting and torrential rain, which the cast did well to sing over.

I found the costuming confusing but it did not detract from the whole, and Nicholas Cannon should be congratulated for directing this brave production. Conductor Luke Dollman was in complete control of the excellent Elder Conservatorium Music Orchestra. In all it was an interesting look at music from another era with a modern twist, a great way to spend the evening, despite the weather.