My First Opera: Dido & Aeneas

This is the first opera I have ever been to (and heard) before. I don’t know much at all about opera as a result, so take these views as those from an uneducated audience member’s perspective.

Firstly the set was a brilliant idea: it was a stage in the round and a central raised platform, with grouped tables surrounding it, at which the audience was seated. It meant that we were sat very close to the performers, which helped to capture and keep my attention throughout. Furthermore, the whole opera was set in the 1920s, so the entire room was set as a 1920s club and bar, and the costumes were all flapper-style. Anyone that knows me well will know how much I love this era and style, so having it set during this period made me even more excited!

As I said before I know very little about opera, so through the performance I focused more on the music and the sound than the plot (which thankfully was given in the programme, and was a great help). Personally, the strongest vocal performance was by Dido herself. She had a powerful yet beautiful sound to her voice, with a quiet confidence. Her acting too was very impressive (especially as she had previously told me this was what she was worried about the most). Put it this way, Dido’s death scene definitely tugged at my heartstrings! The other performers also gave good, strong acting and singing performances too, particularly Aeneas.

My only major criticism of the show would be the movement: I felt that sometimes there was far too much of it. Naturally, if the actors are too stationary it can make an audience uninterested, but sometimes it’s nice to have moments of stillness among action – otherwise it just gets confusing and distracting, as this did. Furthermore, although the ‘dance’ moves (I use this term loosely) were at first enjoyable, they soon became very repetitive.

Overall it was enjoyable to watch, especially for my first opera – which honestly, I didn’t expect to be so captivated by. Who knows, maybe I’ll see another one day?

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This review may be a bit biased, considering my very close friend, Katy, was playing the lead of ‘Dido’. Therefore, this, combined with my obvious inexperience, means perhaps this is not the most professional of posts… Oh well!

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