Dido and Aeneas

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October 16, 2015

August 24, 2015


7 pmPre-performance talk
Memorial Baptist Church

8 pmDido and Aeneas Opening Night
Q & A with cast following the performance
Champagne Reception
Town Hall Theater

Saturday, October 17

7 pmPre-performance talk
Memorial Baptist Church

8 pm Dido and Aeneas
Q & A with cast following the performance
Town Hall Theater

Sunday, October 18

1 pmPre-performance talk
Memorial Baptist Church

2 pmDido and Aeneas
Q & A with cast following the performance
Town Hall Theater


Artistic Director Douglas Anderson
Conductor Jeffrey Buettner
Production/Stage Manager Mary Longey
Lighting Designer Neil Curtis
Costume Designer Debby Anderson
Technical Director Bill Friml
Scenic Artist Elinor Steele Friml
Property Masters Kate Tilton and Gale Hurd
Company Manager/Supertitles Hannah Logan


The Cast

Dido Sara Petrocelli
Aeneas Bray Wilkins
Belinda Bevin Hill
Second Woman Elisa Singer
Sorceress Stephanie Weiss
First Witch Barbara Paterson
Second Witch Olga Perez Flora
First Sailor James Flora
Spirit Sarah Cullins



Sarah PetrocelliSara Louise Petrocelli (Dido), mezzo soprano from New Jersey, is thrilled to be back in Middlebury for her third production with OCM. Since her last visit here, she’s been singing with the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, where she’s had the honor of working with Maestri James Levine and Gianandrea Noseda, and was also named a district winner in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. This past year Sara sang the title role in Carmen with Western Plains Opera, and was most recently seen on stage as Beppe in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz with Winter Opera St. Louis, and called “a standout in both the singing and acting departments” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Later this season, she returns as a guest soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Masterly Singing Series. Sara is represented by MIA Artist Management.
Learn more about Sarah at:  saralouisepetrocelli.com


Bray WilkinsAmerican tenor Bray Wilkins (Aeneas) is often praised for his sweet, romantic, sonority, natural simpatico and sincere musicality, which makes him a consistent audience favorite. He premiered the title role of The Bricklayer (Houston Grand Opera) and Luigi in the Western premiere of Bolcom’s A Wedding as well as Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), Nemorino (L’Elisir d’Amore), Fenton (Falstaff), Lensky (Eugene Onegin), Marco Palmieri (Gondoliers), Frederic (Pirates of Penzance), Duca di Mantua, Charlie in Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel (Ravinia), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), and Lysander (Midsummer Night’s Dream). In concert, Bray has sung the Creation, the Messiah, Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, Mozart Missa Brevis, and Berlioz L’enfance du Christ. 3-time regional finalist of the MONCA, he also won 2nd prize and Audience Favorite (Opera Birmingham Vocal Comp.), the Coeur d’Alene Aria Comp., the University of Idaho Aria Comp., the Orpheus Comp. Cynthia Vernadarkis Award, and the Lotte Lenya-Lys Symonette Award.  Learn more about Bray at: http://www.stephensartists.com/artists/wilkins.html


Bevin HillBevin Hill (Belinda), soprano, is originally from Atlanta, GA. She received her Master’s degree at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Catherine Malfitano. She has been a member of Arizona Opera’s Marion Rose Pullin Resident Artist Program, Des Moines Metro Opera as an Apprentice Artist, and Opera Saratoga as an Apprentice Artist. She was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Georgia District Winner. She has sung Lisette in La Rondine with Opera Company of Middlebury, VT and Musetta in La Bohème with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. Other roles include Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), and Grittly (Le 66). She received her BFA in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and currently resides in New York, NY.  Learn more about Bevin at: bevinhill.com


Elisa SingerSoprano Elisa Singer (Second Woman) enjoys a versatile career, ranging from opera to contemporary, early, and sacred music. Recent performances include soprano soloist in Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Sacred Music in a Sacred Space at St. Ignatius Loyola, soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with Amor Artis, soloist in Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater with the choir of St. John the Divine, Yvette in Opera Company of Middlebury’s production of Puccini’s La Rondine, and soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Monmouth Civic Chorus. An active collaborative artist, Ms. Singer has a career performing choral music throughout the New York area. A frequent singer with Musica Sacra, Elisa has performed in concerts such as Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor at Carnegie Hall, and more. Elisa earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, and her Masters from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Learn more about Elisa at: elisasinger.com


Stephanie WeissCanadian-American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Weiss (Sorceress) is an active singer in Europe and the United States, where her roles have included Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, Klementia in Sancta Susanna, Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Grimgerde in Die Walküre, Marianne Leitmetzerin in Der Rosenkavalier, Giannetta in L’elisir d’amore, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana and Venus in Tannhäuser. She holds degrees from New England Conservatory (voice), Tufts University (biology and drama), University of Missouri-Kansas City, Mannes College of Music, and University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV). Ms. Weiss was a Regional Finalist in the Midwest Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She has sung with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin Philharmonic, Frankfurt Opera, Bern Opera, Opera Cologne, Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater, Oper Leipzig, Opera Orchestra of New York and San Diego Opera. She is on the faculties of AIMS in Graz and the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, and is an Assistant Professor of Voice at UNLV.  Learn more about Stephanie at: http://aimsgraz.com/project/stephanie-weiss


Barbara PatersonBarbara Paterson (First Witch) is thrilled to return to the Opera Company of Middlebury family. Praised by Opera News for her “clear, direct” singing, her recent roles include Despina, Tatiana (with OCM), Pamina, Countess Almaviva, Miss Jessel (The Turn of the Screw), Fox Goldenstripe (The Cunning Little Vixen) and Elle (La voix humaine, a signature role). She has appeared as with the Académie Francis Poulenc, New Zealand Opera, Catskill Symphony Orchestra, Franklin Stage Company, New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, NIMBY Opera (as co-producer and resident artist), Amore Opera and Vital Opera. She is a dedicated concert performer, with repertoire ranging from the standard to the experimental (Berio’s Sequenza for Female Voice, George Crumb’s Apparition) to the contemporary (Saariaho, Corigliano, Neely Bruce, Heggie, Laitman). MM Westminster Choir College, BM New Zealand School of Music, BA (German) Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  Learn more about Barbara at: about.me/barbara_paterson


Olga Perez FloraCuban-American mezzo-soprano, Olga Perez Flora (Second Witch), has been lauded by Opera News for her “smoky tones” and “firm, pleasant voice and lively poise.” She has most recently recorded the role of Frost in Stephen Colantti’s The Selfish Giant. Recent performances include Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Carmen in Carmen, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, mezzo-soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem, Manuel de Falla’s El Retablo de Maese Pedro as well as his El Amor Brujo, the Duruflé Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Cantata 147, and Hayden’s Lord Nelson Mass. Ms. Perez Flora has sung with companies such as Opera Columbus, Arizona Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera New Jersey, the Erie Chamber Orchestra and more. Ms. Perez Flora has most recently been seen as Flora in La Traviata and Olga in Eugene Onegin with Opera Company Middlebury and is thrilled to be back with her OCM family!  Learn more about Olga at:  olgaperezflora.com


Jamie FloraAmerican tenor James Flora (First Sailor) recently performed in the second ever American production of Guntram with Washington Concert Opera to critical acclaim, where he was hailed as a tenor with “a resonant, impeccably-trained voice and fearlessness to his singing.” He will make his debut this season as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Erie Chamber Opera returning to Erie after performing Tamino in their production of Die Zauberflöte. Mr. Flora was a Resident Artist at Pittsburgh Opera where he performed Fenton in Falstaff, Dancaïre in Carmen and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Recent concert performances include the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, with Alexandria Symphony in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Last season he made his debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata with OCM where he was also seen in 2012 as Nicias in Thaïs. He is an assistant professor of voice at Central Michigan University and is represented by MIA Artists. Learn more about James at:  jamesfloratenor.com


Sarah CullinsAmerican singer Sarah Cullins (Spirit) recently returned to the US after an exciting 10-year career in Bogota, Colombia. She divides her time between singing Latin American and Spanish repertoire with her husband in their duo 8 Cuerdas, as well as performing opera, oratorio and symphonic works. In South America she had great success as Gilda in Rigoletto, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Adèle in Die Fledermaus with the Lyric Foundation of Antioquia in Medellín, as well as Musetta in La Bohème at the National Theater in Guatemala. In 2014 Sarah made her debut with the Opera Company of Middlebury singing Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algieri and she recently appeared as Edith in Erik Nielsen’s A Fleeting Animal in theaters throughout Vermont. Upcoming engagements include Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Bach B-minor Mass with the Oriana Singers, The Piazzolla Project at First Night Burlington and the Dvorak Te Deum with the Vermont Youth Orchestra. Learn more about Sarah at: www.sarahcullins.com and www.8cuerdas.com


Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695)


Nahum Tate (1652 – 1715)

A Few Words about Dido and Aeneas:

The libretto of Dido and Aeneas by Nahum Tate was based on a section of Vergil’s Aeneid. Tate changed it considerably, making it a tragic love story. The opera, by far the earliest in English now widely presented, had its première at a girls’ school in England in 1689. [For perspective, Bach and Handel were each just four years old in 1689.]

This was composer Henry Purcell’s only full opera. It is notable for its concision, the whole thing, in three acts, taking only about an hour to perform. The original score did not survive and current editions make use of materials that date from about 100 years after the opera’s first production.

It has been plausibly suggested that Dido and Aeneas was originally intended as a religio-political allegory in which James II (Aeneas) abandons Dido (England) by rejecting traditional Protestantism and embracing Catholicism.


Dido, the Queen of Carthage, entertains the Trojan Prince Aeneas, who had escaped from the destroyed Troy and was shipwrecked near Carthage on his way to Italy, where he had been given a duty to found a new Troy.

Dido and Aeneas fall in love. Witches plot Dido’s destruction and the Sorceress conjures a storm to break out when the royal couple are hunting. The storm duly arrives and one of the coven, impersonating the god Mercury, tells Aeneas he must leave Dido and sail for Italy. Aeneas is bound by Trojan custom to follow the command of a god, so he and his sailors leave, to the delight of the witches.

After Aeneas departs Dido kills herself (‘When I am laid in earth’), her death lamented by mourning cupids.

— J. Scott Morrison, OCM board member

ScottMorrison-102Our own resident music expert and OCM board member, J. Scott Morrison, has compiled a list of his favorite recordings and videos of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. We hope you enjoy them.



Audio CDs:

Dido - Janet BakerDame Janet Baker is a dream Dido in this CD with the English Chamber Orchestra. Raimund Herincx is aptly heroic as Aeneas.




This wonderful CD with the redoubtable Susan Graham as Dido and Ian Bostridge as Aeneas was recorded in 2009.




Dido - Von OtterFor original instruments and a “historically informed production” there is this one with Anne Sofie von Otter. The Aeneas is, for me, a little colorless in this recording.



Video DVD:

Dido - DVD - EwingThe only operatic version of Purcell’s masterpiece on DVD is this one with Maria Ewing and Karl Daymond from 2009.