Tel Aviv skyline .
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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas
It is hard to believe that one of the first English operas, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689), performed at the Israeli Opera, turned out to be such a masterpiece as it indeed is.
A heartbroken queen, a heartbreaking warrior, Macbeth- like witches and a sorcerer are the ingredients of a profoundly moving creation.
The Opéra de Rouen Normandie’s production, directed and designed by Cécile Roussat and Julien Lubek, focused mainly on the paraphernalia, more than on the plot. Acrobats were thoroughly professional and mildly amusing, and dancers were elegantly minimalist and tastefully choreographed.
Whether Purcell would have welcomed the overdone stage effects that left the plot and significance in the shadow is an open question.
In the female title role, Anat Czarny’s warm, soft and expressive mezzo-soprano made an outstanding, moving performance, culminating in the final tragic farewell aria. Daniela Skorka’s bright, fresh-sounding soprano represented a persuasive Belinda. Oded Reich, as Aeneas, made one understand why Dido fell in love with his sonorous baritone.
The witches Tali Ketzer and Nitzan Alon were as frightening as required, and their vicious laughter expressed a veritable hellish sense of humor. It is pleasant to report that these demanding roles were splendidly performed by local talents.
The Barocada Orchestra, conducted by Eitan Schmeisser, professionally provided the instrumental support in authentic style. The Israeli Opera chorus was a main actor, expressing the plot’s drama and emotions forcefully and sensitively.