Review: Dido and Aeneas

Scottish Opera
Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock – Apr 8th to Apr 9th
3 Stars (3 / 5)

Prince Aeneas sets out to build a great empire in Rome but finds himself shipwrecked in Carthage where he falls in love with Dido, the widowed Queen. But all is not well. There are those to whom fair Dido is foul and her happiness an abomination. An evil sorceress appears to Aeneas as Mercury, the God of War, and convinces him that he must pursue his destiny leaving Dido behind heartbroken. Will he complete his quest or defy the Gods?

Purcell’s Dido and Aneas is one of the most famous opera’s of the baroque era, Henry Purcell’s delightful counterpoint brings delicate light to this tragic telling, rendered by Scottish Opera’s Connect program which offers an opportunity for young people to cultivate their creative talents.

Creative talents they have! The minimalist setup is a-burst with enthusiasm from the chorus, while the three lead roles are taken on by the Paul Keohone and the fabulous Shuna Scott Sendall who doubles both as Dido and her antagonist, the evil sorceress. Sarah Powder excels as Dido’s sister.  While the piece incorporates young actors and singers some of the directorial and production choices seem to mimic the air of a youth theatre production, and this slight condescension seems unnecessary given the capabilities of the young crowd from Connect. The performance is well loved despite ending in tears.

Dido is a modest piece less than an hour long and an accessible start for those new to the Opera.