Opera hits the high note, works with Japan

Sam Houston State University Opera and Kobe College presents “Dido and Aeneas,” a tragedy by Henry Purcell, in the dance theatre of the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center March 23-25.

“Dido and Aeneas” is presented in collaboration with SHSU Department of Dance, SHSU Center for Early Music and Research and Performance and Kobe College Dance and Music from Japan. This is one of the first English operas ever written, composed in approximately 1688 by Henry Purcell with a libretto by Nahum Tate.

“The opera is a tragedy in three acts and is based on Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid,” Associate Professor and Director of Opera Workshop Rebecca Grimes said. “The story outlines the love affair between Dido, Queen of Carthage and the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when she is abandoned by him in his quest for the founding of Rome.”

Although this opera is over 350 years old, according to Grimes, “Dido and Aeneas” has themes of love and loss portrayed by complex characters that the audience will still find relevant.

“This is a great first opera to see,” Grimes said. “It is only about an hour long, and is in English, and the music is beautiful! It also features dance as well as early musical instruments that folks may not be familiar with.”

To make this possible, Grimes is collaborating with SHSU Director of the School of Music Scott Plugge, Professor of Dance Dana Nicolay Director of CEMRAP Mario Aschauer, Professor of Cello and acting coordinator of this event Daniel Saenz, and Professor of Saxophone and project translator Masahito Sugihara.

“In March, students and faculty from Kobe College [are traveling] from Japan to participate in the opera production at SHSU,” Grimes said.

The first performance was held March 13 at The Centrum/John Wesley Methodist Church in Houston. March 23-25 will be performed in the SHSU dance theatre of the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.

“SHSU students and faculty will travel to Kobe, Japan in May for a repeat performance on the Kobe campus,” Grimes said. “During each exchange, students and faculty will participate in joint recitals and master classes. In a time of so much uncertainty and social fracture, this project represents several groups of people coming together to create something beautiful that is greater than ourselves. It also provides the students an opportunity to learn about people who have a different world experience, which is invaluable. The creative arts are a vehicle that allows these things to happen.”

The opera will be performed at Kobe College on June 1 and 2.

Tickets for the SHSU performances are $15 general, $12 seniors and $5 for SHSU students.

To purchase tickets visit www.shsu.edu/boxoffice or call 936-294-2339.

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