Mark Morris Dance Group teams with the power house mezzo soprano of Seattle Ring fame, Stephanie Blythe, at Cal Performances’ presentation of an ancient morality play Dido and Aeneas, with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. It’s a contemporary presentation but this 17th century English opera debuted at an English girls’ private school in the countryside. Operas were morality plays so this contains a warning for a queen or for girls with a calling not to fall for a charismatic sailor who will love her and leave her, according to his own calling.
Since then women have started to sail themselves although as a new sailor I see men still dominate completely. I should note in the last century our heroes not only sail away they fly away and to the moon. It would be interesting to see the dynamics of this almost 400 year old story adapted to aviation as pilots and sailors do seem to come from the same stock, with the sea being more forgiving.
Stephanie Blythe, so acclaimed for playing the wife of the god of Valhalla with warmth, physicality and integrity in Seattle’s Ring two years ago, will play the queen Dido and the sorceress who curses her union with the hero Aeneas, sung by baritone Philip Cutlip.
Stephanie also played a Valkyrie sister in that same Ring Cycle. Waltraute, the Valkyrie sister sung by Stephanie Blythe, warns and beseeches Brunnhilde. She warns, the ring is cursed and it’s not just a wedding gift from your beloved. Blythe gave me goosebumps as she exited the mountaintop singing of woe.
Stephanie came to the Bay Area from Seattle right after the Ring Cycle and performed in San Francisco Opera’s Il Trovatore by Verdi. This included performing live by simulcast before the 25,000 at the ballpark for Opera at the Ballpark. Stephanie continued to show her world class talent as she made the transition from Wagner to Verdi for Il Trovatore, singing the role of Azucena, a gypsy avenging her mother’s death.
Meanwhile. This promising hybrid performance includes Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, which performed Dido & Aeneas two years ago in November of 2009 with the fair haired and statuesque Susan Graham in concert as the queen.
As for the moving parts, I’ve seen a memorable Mark Morris ballet at San Francisco Ballet with comic sexual twists although I have yet to see his Hard Nut, his take on the Nutcracker. I saw him direct years ago with Norma, about a female warrior captured in her forest by an evil force complete with a dancing goon squad in chains, only to outwit her captors by getting them drunk.
So for more commentary on the story of Dido & Aeneas, click here for a review from PBO’s Dido of two years ago. It’s an interesting depiction of how the mates of our heroes suffer and how our heroes suffer personal sacrifice for the sake of their country. Our heroes male or female still need protection from evil, whether it’s sorcery or the lust for power and wealth.
It’s such an appropriate subject for Cal Performances being on the UC Berkeley campus, our bastion of civil rights and free speech.
Dido & Aeneas by PBO Fall 2009
For more stories about Stephanie Blythe, click here:
Stephanie Blythe as Fricka: When does the wife get the last word?
Stephanie Blythe a goddess for our times in Seattle’s “Ring Cycle”
Stephanie Blythe who sings Fricka in Ring Cycle sang at Verdi Requiem for Runnicles
Ring Cycle: Women warriors need heroes and protection from cowards
Tickets start at thirty dollars and range to $110. Various discounts available.
For more info on the Cal Performance September 16 – 19, 2011: Mark Morris’ Dido Dance
Please note there is a $9 per order service fee when ordering tickets online or by phone. In addition, there is a $2 per ticket Theater Restoration Fee charged for all events.
Contact the Ticket Office
The Ticket Office is located at the northeast corner of Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.
Ticket Office hours are:
Tue-Fri, 12 – 5:30pm
Sat & Sun, 1 – 5pm
and approximately one hour prior to curtain.
(Holiday and University break hours may vary; please call for updates before visiting the Ticket Office.)
Seattle Opera’s Ring an entrancing fairytale, transcending with childlike moments of joy
Seattle’s triumphant Ring Cycle 2009 and who is more Wagnerian than thou?
Seattle Opera predicts 9.5 million in economic benefits from Ring Cycle 2009
Seattle and Wagner inspired by Scandinavian myths and heroes
Mountains of Seattle, Grand Tetons, Yosemite: natural wonders inspire
Yosemite’s Ahwahnee and the 84th Bracebridge Dinner, Renaissance Festival at Christmas