Presented by State Opera and Elder Conservatorium
Reviewed 2 October 2018
It is always exciting when State Opera presents a work outside of the standard canon, and especially when it is in an unusual venue. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, based on the Greek legend, is a short, challenging piece, with an incomplete score. Composed in the 17th century, it is regarded as the oldest opera in English.
With this production, the company has chosen the atmospheric Plant 4 with cabaret seating around a central stage area. A bare stage and simple, contemporary costuming, ensures that the venue itself is central to the art direction.
Teaming up with Elder Conservatorium, this production is primarily a vehicle for young, emerging artists. The Elder Conservatorium Orchestra and Chorus all proved themselves worthy contributors, bringing a vibrancy and freshness to the work, under the gentle, guiding baton of Luke Dollman. Nicholas Cannon’s direction makes full use of the Plant 4 area, including the balcony.
The young cast included Bethany Hill as Dido and Raphael Wong as Aeneas, both of whom put in a solid night’s work. Elizabeth Campbell as Sorceress added the necessary gravitas. Kate Louise Macfarlane, Sara Lambert, Erin Holmes, Lucy Stoddart, Ruby Washington and Callum Mcging rounded out the cast, taking the smaller roles. All did a splendid job, with the only drawback being a lack of power in some of the younger voices. And opening night took place in the middle of a loud electric storm which, although adding to the atmosphere, meant the performers had to fight even harder to push out through Plant 4’s less-than-ideal acoustics.
This is a thoroughly delightful production, and with cabaret seating, cheese platters and trendy atmos galore, it makes for a wonderful night out. Despite its inherent difficulties, this is a piece awash in beautiful music, done justice by cast and orchestra.
For old opera buffs, this is a fantastic fresher-upper; for those new to the genre, this is an unbeatable way to pop your opera cherry!
There are very few tickets left for the remaining two performances, so don’t dilly-dally.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Venue: Plant 4 Bowden
Season: 4th October 7.30, 7th October 7.30
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $ 45